9 December 2015 — This year’s “best master’s thesis in the area of national or international history” was written by Bareez Majid, who has completed a research master in Middle Eastern Studies. She wins the prestigious 2015 Volkskrant–IISG thesis prize for her courageous, solid research on a former “torture prison” in Iraqi Kurdistan, which is now a museum.
“Iraqi Kurdistan is a land full of unresolved traumas,” explains Majid in the 4 December edition of the Volkskrant newspaper. Now 28 years of age, the master’s student herself fled Iraqi Kurdistan and came to the Netherlands when she was ten years old. When she was older, she returned to her country of origin and discovered Amna Suraka, a memorial museum that had been a torture prison under Saddam Hussein’s rule of terror. For her research master’s, she examined the process of remembrance and commemoration in this post-conflict society. How can a museum help resolve the lingering traumas caused by the Iraqi dictator?
Due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter, Majid chose not to make her thesis public. She explains her decision in the Volkskrant: “My respondents shared their most personal moments with me. For that reason there is no way I can expose their names or other details, such as stories about torture, to the public. That would compromise both the integrity of the people I interviewed and their trust in me. And the Kurdish community is also quite small. Wide publication of their stories could damage their reputations, and considering the complex political reality in Kurdistan and Iraq it could even be dangerous.”
On behalf of the entire Faculty of the Humanities, we would like to congratulate Bareez Majid for winning the Volkskrant–IISG Thesis Prize. A well-deserved recognition of her outstanding research!
_Bareez Majid’s thesis advisor was Prof.dr. Anthonya Visser