Friday 22 June 2012


The BISI's Council elected me as their new Chair in February 2012. In this blog—which I've been wanting to start for months now—I'm planning to write about some of the things I do and think about as I carry out my role. I promise to skip the confidential and/or boring bits, though, such as proof-reading minutes, drafting policy proposals, and chairing meetings (which are great fun, in fact, but you have to be there to appreciate them fully).

And it won't just be about me (at least, I hope not!), or even just about BISI. This is also an opportunity to showcase some of the amazing people I meet who research, teach, study, and/or support Iraq and to share their brilliant work with you.

Needless to say, this is an informal, partial, personal blog reflecting my own thoughts and opinions (though I promise to keep them civil!) and does constitute a formal record of the activities, decisions or policies of the Institute.

Here's a list of stuff that's already happened that I want to come back to. I'll mix in these retrospective posts with current events, so this list isn't just to remind me what to write about. I'll link back to each item as I write about it, to maintain some semblance of order and chronology.

23 February 2012: my first day
Appointing Lauren as Assistant Administrator—how to shine at interview!; saying farewell and thank-you to Roger Matthews (my predecessor as Chair) and Andrew George (long-serving and magnificent editor of Iraq; Roger's lecture in memory of Rachel Maxwell-Hyslop.
17 April 2012: APPGI
Speaking to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Iraq at Portcullis House; meeting our new Visiting Scholar, the delightful Mohammed Jwad Kasim.
21 April 2012: URAP
Jane Moon and Robert Killick's exciting plans for archaeological excavations near Ur in southern Iraq.
26 April 2012: Xavier Pick
Appeal lecture and the most stunning art-work on the relationship(s) between antiquity and post-war Iraq.
3–11 May 2012: Kurdistan
This will have to be several blog posts to do it justice:
  • the Suleimaniyah Museum, Antiquities Service and Guest House;
  • tagging along with the UCL team as they choose excavation sites in the Shahrizor plain near Halabja;
  • travelling through Assyria;
  • Erbil citadel, the souk and dinner chez David Michelmore;
  • Gulan and ArtRole;
  • Erbil Museum, the Iraqi Conservation Institute, etc.
28 May 2012: Nejef, Kerbala and Basra
More on Mohammed Jwad and his work for the Ministry of Shrines; recent and current work in and around Basra
14 June 2012: reliving the war
Jack Fairweather's Bonham-Carter lecture on his book A War of Choice
23 June 2012: Iraqi Cultural Centre opening
at their new premises in Shepherd's Bush

Which brings me up to date. In fact I should have started with the ICC opening, as it was on the day after I set up this blog. But I shall come back to it soon.

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