Choman Hardi | The American University of Iraq Sulaimani

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Choman Hardi

AUIS Alumni Association hosts poetry reading event with Dr. Choman Hardi

  The AUIS Alumni Association's board held a poetry reading at Soho Cafe in Sulaimani on November 24. The reading featured AUIS professor Dr. Choman Hardi reading from her recent book translation, "Butterfly Valley," by Sherko Bekas. Dr. Hardi also read some of her original poetry. After the reading, Dr. Hardi and the attending alumni discussed poetry, the art of translation, and culture in Kurdistan. Around 15 alumni attended the event.

Privilege, Power, and Hierarchy: A Diversity Training Workshop

On October 22 and October 29, the Center for Gender and Development Studies (CGDS) at AUIS hosted a two-part diversity training workshop about privilege, power, and hierarchy. The workshop was facilitated by Dr. Choman Hardi and Dr. Lynn Rose. The training equipped AUIS students to actively engage with and challenge social injustice by starting discussions about these issues in local high schools. Dr. Choman focused on gender inequality, social construction, and sexist language on the first day of the workshop, while Dr. Lynn focused on different kinds of discrimination against people with disabilities on the second day. Speaking about her aims for the workshop, Dr. Choman said, “We, in AUIS, have many discussions that are not held elsewhere. We sort of live in a bubble. There are many ideas that are discussed and accepted here which could endanger people’s lives outside this place. We think it is important to take this conversation outside. We do not want to be an elitist bubble in a sea of traditional, conservative views, but we aim to engage the community. That is the role of universities generally; that they don't stick to themselves, they actually create ideas that go out to society, and hopefully this training will help towards that.” Dr. Lynn had high hopes for the future regarding social equality in Kurdistan, stating, “I think it could start here in Kurdistan. Why not make this a huge center of change? I wouldn't be happy if it stayed here, but if it started in Kurdistan; if we became a hotbed of revolution for gender equity and accessibility and everything else that's good, why not? I think that would be good, and then we would spread out from there.” A total of 30 students, many of them members of the Action Group (TAG), took part in the workshop and engaged in lively discussions and debates. The students were awarded certificates for completing the workshop. The trained group aims to give presentations in schools around Sulaimaniah in a bid to raise awareness among teenagers about social inequity in Kurdistan. The Center for Gender and Development Studies aims to repeat the training next semester to give more students the opportunity to learn and engage.

CGDS Holds Workshop on Sexual Harassment

By Chra Hussain, AUIS IT major  On October 18, 2016 Dr. Choman Hardi, Director of  Center for Gender and Development Studies at AUIS, facilitated a workshop on sexual harassment. The workshop was was open to both male and female students. Understanding sexual harassment and its consequences was the main focus of the workshop as well as challenging the norms and myths that cause it and highlighting bystander responsibility. After defining sexual harassment and identifying its different types, the workshop discussed its consequences for victims and communities at large; how it negatively affects the victims' psychology and their performance in work or studies; and how it disconnects victims from their community and threatens social cohesion. Not addressing sexual harassment means it will remain unchallenged and may be considered normal and acceptable.  Dr. Hardi shared statistics about how common sexual harassment is and went on to challenge the myths that are used to justify it. The most common myths that were addressed included the following: First of all, women, by dressing in certain ways and going to certain places, are “asking for it”. Secondly, when women say “no” they are just playing hard to get. Another myth that was discussed was “men will always be men” and they can’t control themselves, therefore it is the victim’s responsibility, rather than the perpetrator, to protect herself. Issues related to low level of reporting, despite widespread sexual harassment in the region, were also discussed, especially the threat of shaming and consequent stigmatization. Indeed, shaming has become a global phenomenon especially through the power of technology. If one has sensitive photos of another or has image editing capabilities, they use it to threaten the victims so that the victims refuse to report.  The workshop ended with highlighting the responsibility of bystanders to intervene in developing situations, challenging perpetrators, and cooperating with investigators. It stressed our responsibilities, as individuals, for spreading ideas and practises of equality leading to a safer society. Raising awareness, especially through education, is indeed an effective first step to confront sexual harassment and abuse. This workshop gave AUIS students the opportunity to be more aware of the meaning, prevalence, reasons, and possible approaches to tackling the phenomenon. Students warmly participated in the discussions and offered their own views about the issues.  

Privilege, Power, and Hierarchy: A Diversity Training Workshop

You are invited to participate in a two-day workshop on socio-economic inequity, highlighting gender and disability. Sponsored by the AUIS Center for Gender and Development Studies, this workshop provides training for AUIS students who may be interested in facilitating diversity workshops in local high schools, and is open to all interested students, staff, and community members. Part One of the workshop will be held on Saturday, October 22 from 9:00-12:30; Part Two will be held on Saturday, October 29 from 9:00 to 12:30. Both sessions will be held in  lecture hall B-B2-39. Participants who attend both days of training will receive certificates of completion. Facilitators are Dr. Choman Hardi (English) and Dr. Lynn Rose (Social Science). There is no cost for this workshop. Space is limited: please reserve your spot by emailing the President of  TAG (The Action Group), Zyran Ibrahim, at [email protected]

Choman Hardi's "Gas Attack" Compared to Wilfred Owen's World War One Poem

April 14, 2016 - British poet, translator and reviewer, Martyn Crucefix, recently compared two gas attack poems by British war poet Wilfred Owen (1893 - 1918) and Kurdish poet and author, Choman Hardi. Hardi, chair of the English Department and founding director of the Center for Gender and Development Studies at AUIS, recently published her second volume of poems, “Considering the Women” in November 2015. The book’s central sequence, Anfal, draws on Hardi’s post-doctoral research on women survivors of genocide in Kurdistan. The poem, “Gas Attack” in the article comes from this collection. Anfal was a series of military operations which targeted Kurdistan's countryside in 1988. Between February and September 1988 over 2000 villages were razed to the ground, 100,000 civilians ended up in mass graves, and 281 locations were attacked with poison gas. The gas attacks were used at the beginning of every stage of the Anfal genocide to kill and terrorize civilians. April 14, 2016 is the 28th anniversary of the Anfal genocide. Crucefix has compared Hardi’s poem to Owen’s, “Dulce et Decorum est”, on his experiences of warfare in World War One. “I’ve recently been reading Choman Hardi’s new collection and the link with Owen’s very well-known (well-studied) poem is obvious,” says Crucefix, “Owen’s title is a reference to Horace’s Odes (III, ii l. 13), the full phrase translating as “Sweet and fitting it is to die for one’s country”. It is this sort of ardent, patriotic jingoism that Owen looks to counter in the poem as it is the world’s blindness to real events in Kurdish-Iraq that Hardi wishes to correct.” “Owen’s poem takes the reader into the trenches, to the post-traumatic world of nightmares, but also manages to encompass this declarative, even propagandist, point. Likewise, Hardi’s poem plunges us into the gas attack and its aftermath but never ventures into the same argumentative, passionate point-making. Her decision to allow the details of this poem to speak for itself is a brave one (of tone and manner) given the horrors of which it speaks and the author’s evident commitment to bringing them to notice,” concludes Crucefix. Read the full review here: Two Gas Attack Poems - Owen Wilfred and Choman Hardi.

Center for Gender and Development Studies Launched at AUIS

The new Center seeks to become a hub of knowledge and conceptual discussions around gender studies that will be disseminated within society through different outreach strategies. The ultimate aim of the center’s outreach initiatives is to provide the basis for normative change and development by providing training, sharing information, and supporting women’s economic empowerment, leadership and management. The center was formally launched by Dr. Choman Hardi,  founding director of CGDS and chair of the AUIS English department, during her opening speech at an AUIS conference on the future of the Ezidi community in Iraq. The conference, "Ezidis Beyond ISIS: Gender, Genocide and Return", was the first conference hosted by CGDS and the Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS) on February 11, 2016.  The event brought together Ezidi survivors of ISIS atrocities, agencies working to document these atrocities, practitioners providing services to survivors, academics working in the field, and relevant international experts to create an in depth understanding of - and generate action on - one of 21st century’s worst crimes against humanity.   Announcing the opening of the Center, Dr. Hardi said, "It is an honor to launch the Center for Gender and Development Studies (CGDS) in this important conference. We firmly believe that the knowledge produced in academic institutions needs to be disseminated within the relevant communities, using different outreach strategies. A holistic approach to tackling gender inequality is essential." She continued to say that gender activism is most effective when informed by feminist knowledge. "Normative change in gender relations can only happen when feminist knowledge has been produced and shared. This is why we believe that academic work and activism should be more firmly connected. Activists need to know more about theoretical issues and academics should be more involved in activism." The Center hopes to amplify women's voice and agency nationally and within their communities as a means of social and economic development and promote gender informed practices in professional and humanitarian contexts.  At an academic level, the Center aims to increase and enhance AUIS's research capacity in the field of gender and promote gender in the University's curricula through offering courses on the subject. Dr. Hardi mentioned in her speech that in a survey conducted amongst AUIS students, 62 percent had shown interest in studying gender related courses and 32 percent wanted to take a minor in gender studies, which is a very encouraging sign. AUIS currently offers one course on "Gender, Media and Society", which is taught by Dr. Hardi. She said that it is very satisfying to see the course help students transform long-held views on gender and normality. "What is education if not stretching ourselves beyond our comfort zone and being willing to reconsider our long held views? What is education if not realizing that we have been persuaded by various systems to accept inequality and learning how to challenge it?," she said in the speech.  Read full text of Dr. Hardi's opening speech at the conference.  Find out more about the Center for Gender and Development Studies at AUIS. Find out more about the conference on Ezidi genocide, displacement and return. 

Choman Hardi's Book Launch Begins Orange the World Campaign at AUIS

  November 25, 2015 - Distinguished poet and activist, and Chair of the English department at The American University of Iraqi, Sulaimani (AUIS), Dr. Choman Hardi, published her second collection of poems, Considering the Women, earlier this month. Her new book explores the ambiguous relationship between immigrants and their homeland, and the plight of women in a patriarchal society and as survivors of political violence. "The book’s central sequence, Anfal, draws on Hardi’s post-doctoral research on women survivors of genocide in Kurdistan. The stories of the survivors are framed by the radically shifting voice of the researcher, naive and matter-of-face at the start; grieved, abstracted and confused by the end...Choman Hardi's second collection in English ends with a new beginning found in new love and in taking time off from the journey of traumatic discovery to enjoy the small, ordinary things of life," as described in the excerpt on the book cover.   Earlier in November, Hardi was invited to a book tour in the UK by the publisher Bloodaxe, along with two American poets, Kim Addonizio and Tony Hoagland. She had the opportunity to read from her new collection at various events and venues throughout the tour. The book tour started with the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and lead to readings at King’s College, Newcastle University and her alma mater, Queen’s College Oxford. Hardi also attended the Humber Mouth Literature Festival in Hull and the Woodstock Poetry Festival as part of the tour. The book has also been given a recommendation by the Poetry Book Society (PBS), UK as one of the PBS selections for Winter 2015.  Hardi formally launched her book in Kurdistan at an event hosted at AUIS on November 25, 2015. The launch was attended in great numbers by members of the local community as well as students, staff and faculty members at AUIS. The book launch coincided with the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls, and marked the first day of the campaign on campus to raise awareness of gender violence, in support of the global “Orange the World” campaign. AUIS Interim President, Dr. Esther Mulnix, welcomed the guests to the launch before a trio of musicians from Sulaimani - Arayan Jalal, Rasty Jmal Kurdi and Zana Aziz - gave a melodious performance on guitar, saz and cello. Afterwards, AUIS students, Shatoo Diyar Bakir and Zhiwar Jawhar, spoke briefly on the issue of gender violence and the students’ efforts to raise awareness on campus. “This year AUIS will go orange. Next year, we will make Kurdistan orange,” they said to an applause by the audience. Dr. Hardi recited a few poems from her new collection, including ‘Dib’s Camp, the Women’s Prison’, which was recently selected as The Guardian’s Poem of the Week. She also read a few poems from her first book, Life for Us. Noted Irish poet and academic, Bernard O'Donoghue, in praise of Choman Hardi's first collection of poetry had said: "I have rarely read a book which so indisputably establishes the capacity of poetry to express the historical and political... poetry makes something happen here; the book answers the poem's question "Could you show me where that is on the map?" more memorably than any map or political analysis." At the end, Dr. Hardi presented copies of her new book to the Sulaimani Public Library and Zheen Archive. After the readings, guests were invited by the students to hand-paint and write messages against gender violence on a piece of fabric. The painted orange piece will be displayed on campus throughout the internationally marked 16 days of activism to end violence against women. Shiereen Saib, project manager at the AUIS Center for Gender and Development Studies (CGDS), served as master of the ceremony. We would like to thank the sponsors of the book launch, Chalak’s Place, who provided refreshments and snacks for the guests attending the event.    Related Links: More about Choman Hardi, the author Choman Hardi reads a poem, A day for love, from her new collection in this video  Hardi’s reading in King's College during the book tour Guardian’s Poem of the week: Dibs Camp, the Women’s Prison by Choman Hardi Two gas attack poems: Wilfred Owen and Choman Hardi Choman Hardi’s books on Amazon Read press articles about the book launch AUIS Goes Orange!

Book Launch: Considering the Women

On November 25, 2015, AUIS English literature Professor Choman Hardi launched her second collection of poems Considering the Women that explores the equivocal relationship between immigrants and their homeland, as well as the breakdown of an intermarriage, and the plight of women in an aggressive patriarchal society and as survivors of political violence. The book’s central sequence, Anfal, draws on Choman Hardi’s post-doctoral research on women survivors of genocide in Kurdistan.  The launch was held on November 25 to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls. AUIS students, participating in the global "Orange the World" campaign, also gave a brief talk about elimination of gender violence and held some interesting activities around the event.  Read more about the event in the following press articles:  Westga: به‌وێنه...زانکۆی ئه‌مریکی له‌ سلێمانی پرته‌قاڵی راگه‌یاند  Xendan: زانكۆی‌ ئه‌مریكی‌ کوردستان پرتەقاڵی پۆش دەکات Sharpress:  زانکۆی ئه‌مه‌ریکی له‌سلێمانی به‌شداریی که‌مپه‌ینێکی جیهانی ده‌کات Dwarozh: كەمپینی دنیا پرتەقاڵی بكەین راگەیەندرا Awene: بەوێنە: چۆمان هەردی (ڕامان لەژنان)ی بڵاوكردەوە Xendan: بەوێنە.. چالاكییه‌كانی ئەمڕۆی به‌ره‌نگاربوونه‌وه‌ی‌ توندوتیژیی‌ دژ بەژنان لە زانكۆی‌ ئه‌مریكی‌ Sulyon: کەمپەینی (با جیهان پرتەقاڵی بکەین) لە زانکۆی ئەمریکی ڕێکدەخرێت 

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