Middle East Studies

Kali Rubaii

Rice University

Not Dying on Time: The Brutalization of Protracted Living

What are the metrics by which people imagine the timeliness of death? In the shadow of the War on Terror, which claims to “let live” and minimize the visibility of individual deaths in Iraq, how is the protraction of life brutalized? This presentation explores several stories about youthful spirits and bodies who are living-dying in the long wake of US occupation, and its shadow formations. Together they weave a portrait of open questions that surround the ethical implications of untimely death in war, particularly those deaths that do not come soon enough.

Kali Rubaii received her PhD at the University of California, Santa Cruz and is a postdoctoral fellow at Rice University. Her book project, Counter-resurgency: the Ecology of Coercion, examines how Anbari farmers struggle to survive the rearrangement of their landscape by transnational counterinsurgency projects. Her current ethnographic research explores how the cement industry in post-invasion Iraq enforces global regimes of race, class, and cartographies of power, as well as regimes of environmental extraction and degradation. She recently published an article, “Tripartheid: How sectarianism became internal to being,” in the Journal of Political and Legal Anthropology, and has contributed to the book, “The Sacking of Fallujah: A People’s History,” published this April. In approaching the corporate-military enterprise of concrete in Iraq, Rubaii is interested in sharpening resistance strategies that target the vulnerable nexus between coercive power and the physical world.

Keywords: occupation, living-dying, war on terror, untimely death, timeliness of death, protraction of life