Interpreters of Occupation
Gender and the Politics of Belonging
in an Iraqi Refugee Network
Madeline Otis Campbell
"After reading this nuanced, eye-opening ethnography, I will never again hear the deceptively simple phrase ‘military interpreters’ without pausing to think of Meena, of her complex navigations of identities, statuses, obligations, and opportunities. She and the other Iraqi women and men whose lives Campbell brings to life here teach us to think more realistically about the genderings of militarism and the dilemmas faced by refugees."—Cynthia Enloe, author of Nimo’s War, Emma’s War: Making Feminist Sense of the Iraq War
"Campbell illuminates what is often forgotten about the US war on Iraq—its imperial practices of cultural translation and the new dilemmas produced for Iraqi diasporas over family, loyalty, and belonging. This book is essential reading for anyone concerned with US militarism, immigration and diaspora, Arab Americans, cultural studies, and gender studies."—Nadine S. Naber, author of Arab America: Gender, Cultural Politics, and Activism
"An extremely important topic. . . . The book tells stories of individual Iraqis negotiating lives between Iraq and the US within the context of families, societal norms, economic needs, gendered expectations, nationalist feelings, responsibilities to others, and individual desires"—Dina Khoury, author of Iraq in Wartime: Soldiering, Martyrdom, and Remembrance
"The role of interpreters in the US occupation of Iraq has come
to the attention of cultural studies scholars in the past few years.
Few, however, have tackled them in the multi-faceted manner
that Campbell does. Her contribution is a significant one."—Rochelle Davis, associate professor at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University
Madeline Otis Campbell is assistant professor of urban studies and director of the Center for
Human Rights at Worcester State University.
Book Description »[Close »]
During the Iraq War, thousands of young Baghdadis worked as interpreters for
US troops, becoming the front line of the so-called War on Terror. Deployed
by the military as linguistic as well as cultural interpreters—translating the "human
terrain" of Iraq—members of this network urgently honed identification
strategies amid suspicion from US forces, fellow Iraqis, and, not least of all,
one another. In Interpreters of Occupation, Campbell traces the experiences of
twelve individuals from their young adulthood as members of the last Ba’thist generation,
to their work as interpreters, through their navigation of the US immigration
pipeline, and finally to their resettlement in the United States. Throughout,
Campbell considers how these men and women grappled with issues of belonging
and betrayal, both on the battlefield in Iraq and in the US-based diaspora.
A nuanced and richly detailed ethnography, Interpreters of Occupation
gives voice to a generation of US allies through their diverse and vividly rendered
life histories. In the face of what some considered a national betrayal
in Iraq and their experiences of otherness within the United States, interpreters
negotiate what it means to belong to a diasporic community in flux.
View other series books on Gender, Culture, and Politics in the Middle East.
6 x 9, 256 pages, 3 black-and-white illustrations, notes, glossary, bibliography, index