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Message from our Iraquain visitor

Lahay Hussain

It has been one month and a half for me in the Netherlands. Fascinating visit to a typical western culture. This is by itself a very moving experience on the personal level. Here one puts all the theories and ideas made by great American and European social theorists in the right context. They have been talking and interacting with this culture. The great works of Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Simmel, Mead, Park and the rest have been inspired and motivated by the ways of life and thinking of this culture. However, back home in Iraq, we (sociologists and anthropologists) continue to struggle to understand and fit these theories with our current social and cultural situation. Most of the time, they do not work except in an environment that makes the West its source of reference. I have no problem with this. I personally have been blessed by the west. My education, my sense of understanding, my ability to see the entire picture, are all due to my western education at Utah State University and later, University of Utah, 1985 and 1991, to get my MS and my Ph.D  respectively. My concern is how to get to understand that society, my society, from within. How to approach people and make sense of what they believe in, and what they do, how they do it, and why? Are we going to make it? Are we going to build democracy and maintain it and enjoy the fruits of it without feeling a loss of national and cultural identity? Are we going to make the move toward the state of law where no one at all would be above the law?

Besides that sense of pride Iraqis tend to take in being the ancestors of the first civilization in the known history of human kind, the Sumerian and, later on, the Babylonian civilizations, what do we have to offer the world, today? Could we deliver a package of norms and values that bring people closer without feeling coerced to do so? Would we be able to present a qualitatively different image of patriarchy that works in complementary ways rather than bringing that sense of extreme individualism which create alienation and remoteness?

How can we build great and well-rooted educational institutes that help to develop independent mentalities willing to give and not just take and assimilate. We should be able to exchange on all levels of cultural communication. It would remain a challenge for me to achieve some of that or at least, try to plant the idea in the hearts of young people in Iraq who I hope they would be willing to achieve something on the way toward humanitarian progress and cooperation. We have been exhausted by the wars of hatred and resentment. May be it is time for us to work for more interaction and understanding, so we enjoy being together rather than waiting for one more reason to involve in a new series of conflict and dismay.

May 28th 2009, I visited the International Court of Justice in The Hague and I really enjoyed the very last saying made by the guide to visit the Court which states: “May the Sun of Justice enlighten us”. There are a lot of great saying and acting to learn and I truly appreciate the opportunity. God bless you all.

Lahay A. Hussain

University of Baghdad, College of Arts, Dept. of Sociology

Baghdad, Iraq


  1. […] but would also like to react briefly here to the talk as well as to the concerns expressed in her earlier post. These concerns are primarily about (re)building a healthy and democratic political and social […]

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