Conference on the Linkages Between Agriculture and Social-Religious Expressions Held in Duhok, IraqJuan Posada-Burbano
Between June 11 and 13, 2022, the University of Duhok hosted a two-day workshop and a full-day conference on the recovery of social and cultural practices of religious and ethnic minorities affected by the Islamic State occupation, and the role agricultural extension and ecological rejuvenation could play in the recognition and restitution of people’s beliefs, values, history, and memory through linkages to material wellbeing. These events represent dissemination activities as part of the LASER PULSE Support to Traditional Cultural Practices in Northern Iraq project. The conference included representatives from the USAID Iraq Mission, the Mayors of Tel Kayf and Hamdaniya districts and staff from the district’s Directorates of Agriculture, as well as students and faculty members of the University of Duhok.
Panels on Social Cohesion, Wild Plant usage, Agricultural Extension, and Researcher-Practitioner collaboration preceded vibrant discussions between guest speakers and the public. The conference provided a convivial scenario for the team to share the objectives of the project with broader stakeholders and engage in meaningful dialogue about the opportunities and risks the project might encounter in the next 16 months of activity implementation in cultural restoration. The conference concluded that providing support to religious and ethnic minorities in Northern Iraq for them to reconnect with land and reestablish their sense of belonging to a larger political and moral community is critical for Iraq’s stability and prosperity moving forward.
The Support to Traditional Cultural Practices in Northern Iraq project includes partners University of Notre Dame, Indiana University, Purdue University, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, and the University of Duhok. Its intent is to leverage improvements in the material well being of farmers and villagers in the targeted sites to reestablish and rejuvenate cultural, religious, and social practices that rely on animal and vegetal species, ecosystems, and geographical landmarks to survive and thrive. Thus, as a result of these efforts, the team expects to promote a more comprehensive environmental approach, by raising the profile of cultural and social values and practices by highlighting their links with agriculture.