I returned to Iraq in March 2004 during ʿAshura, the commemoration rituals of the martyrdom of the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, Imam Husayn, in the seventh century. It was a year after the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, and it was the first time ʿAshura was publicly celebrated because it had been banned during Saddam Hussein’s regime for over thirty years. In the face of random violence and repression, I became preoccupied with the concept of trauma and bereavement, memory and witnessing, and performative embodied and creative practices as sites for the intervention, reinterpretation, and transformation of the dystopian reality in Iraq. My encounters during ʿAshura with the women in my family and community in Baghdad and Karbala brought me closer to an embodied practice for coping with the violence and day-to-day reality in Iraq. ʿAshura’s...

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