The Limits of Trauma Discourse
Women Anfal Survivors in Kurdistan-Iraq
Ulrike Freitag, Zentrum Moderner Orient
Klaus Schwarz Verlag
1. Edition (2015)
Paperback, 550 pages
This book addresses one of the most heinous crimes of Saddam Hussein’s Baath regime in Iraq, the so-called Anfal operations against the Kurdish population in 1988: within a few months, thousands of villages were destroyed; up to 182,000 men and women abducted and murdered; tens of thousands of civilians were detained and later forcibly resettled. Based on longstanding work experience with women Anfal survivors in the Germyan region of Kurdistan-Iraq, the author explores their psychosocial situation and coping strategies over more than twenty years until today. She documents the women’s long path from victims to survivors, their struggle for truth, justice, and acknowledgement, and their conflicts with both the hegemonic Kurdish national victimhood discourse and Iraqi national strategies in dealing with the past.
The research gives an exceptional long-term psychological perspective on coping with extreme violence and loss, beyond common discourses of trauma and “healing”. It links psychological trauma research to memory studies and the broader debate on social and political reconstruction in post-conflict societies.
Karin Mlodoch is a psychologist and co-founder of the German NGO HAUKARI e.V. that assists women victims of political and social violence in Kurdistan-Iraq. From 2008 to 2011, she was a research fellow at the Zentrum Moderner Orient.