Shadow and Light

Shadow and Light originates from the Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here project, which is an artistic response to an attack on al-Mutanabbi Street (the street of the booksellers) in Baghdad on March 5th 2007.

I became an organiser the same way many others do; first I waited for someone else to organise a response here in my city of San Francisco. And when 10 days went by and there was only silence, I knew that I had to do something. After the attack the distance between myself and the Iraqi people (enforced by the media and my own government) simply fell away, and I knew that if I was an Iraqi, that my San Francisco bookshop would have been on al-Mutanabbi Street, and as a poet that would have been my cultural community that had been attacked.

And so I organised the first reading in August 2007. Through a printer friend, I issued a call for letterpress printers to respond to this attack with a letterpress broadside. In just a few months we had 43 broadsides.

By the end of 2007 (with the war still ongoing) I knew that I wanted to continue the project and was able to find a professor, Sarah Bodman, at the Centre for Fine Print Research, the University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol, to work with me. Within two years we had gathered 130 letterpress printers to contribute broadsides.

We moved towards asking artist book makers to address this attack on books and culture through their own work, and over the next three years we gathered the work of 250 book artists from 20 countries.

In late 2018 we began this photography project, Shadow and Light, as a direct response to the assassination of over 400 Iraqi academics between the years 2003-2013. Our project archive contains letterpress broadsides, artists’ books, and prints. We also have a bookmark project, based in the UK. The project contains the work of approximately 600 poets, writers, and artists from over 20 countries.

Free speech and the free exchange of ideas are at the core of what al-Mutanabbi Street represents to us. We do not attempt to speak for the Iraqi people, they have their own voice. Rather, we want them to know that we see them and hear them in their own struggle for a more just society, and that we will not let anyone in the West forget them. Our project also addresses the basic human rights of women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and where the arts stand in the desire of any people to live in freedom.

Our work has been shown extensively in the U.S. and the U.K. as well as in The Netherlands, Italy, Egypt, Sweden and even an exhibit of our broadsides in Baghdad in 2013. A complete set of our broadsides is now part of the permanent archive of the Iraq National Library.

One important part of this project is our desire for each contributing artist to find their own place “to stand” on al-Mutanabbi Street; most of the artists in this project have had to find their way to that small cultural street in Baghdad by looking for echoes of it in their own landscape and life. I like to say that wherever someone sits down and begins to write towards the truth, or picks up a book to read, it is there that al-Mutanabbi Street starts. Any street that holds a library, a bookstore, a university, an arts organization, is part of al-Mutanabbi Street.

We are not a project of pity or healing; we are a project of Witness, Memory, and Solidarity.

Beau Beausoleil – Founder – Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here

Banner image: Tariq Dajani (Jordan) – 9/22/ 2018 – #173. Ibrahim Shaeer Jabbar Al-Jumaili


Readings of Shadow and Light
Friday 12 July 2019 | Northern Lights, Liverpool, UK

Anahid Kassabian, Festival Programmer of Liverpool Arab Arts Festival 2019, and guests read associated English and Arabic texts and responses from both Shadow and Light and Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here.

Readings include works by Naomi Shihab Nye, Brian Turner, Richard Harrison, Persis Karim and others.

Readers (in alphabetical order):

Amina Atiq
Laura Brown
Anahid Kassabian
Mo Kassabian Svendsen
Mustapha Koriba
Mishaal Omar
Layla Qassim
Taher Qassim
Simon Ryder

Shadow and Light – Current Participants

If you are interested in participating please contact Beau Beausoleil at overlandbooks[at]

Jack Welsh is the UK Coordinator for Shadow and Light. He can be contacted at jack[at]

1. Jim Lommasson (USA) 8/25/2018 – #324. Khalel al-Zahawi [or Khalil al-Zahawi]: Born in 1946, alZahawi was considered the most important calligraphist in Iraq and among the most important in the Arab-Muslim world. He worked as a lecturer in calligraphy in several Arab countries during the 1990s. He was killed 19 May 2007 in Baghdad by a group of armed men. He was buried in Diyalah, where he was born. [Source: BBC News, 22 May 2007. His biography is available on Wikipedia].

2. Beau Beausoleil (USA) 8/28/2018 – #32. Mustafa al-Hity: PhD in medicine, pediatrician, College of Medicine, Baghdad University. Assassinated 14 November 2005.

3. Claire Marcus (USA) 8/29/2018 – #61. Hamza Shenian: Professor of veterinary surgery at Baghdad University‘s College of Veterinary Medicine. Killed by armed men in his garden in a Baghdad neighborhood 21 June 2006. This was the first known case of a professor executed in the victim‘s home. [Source: CEOSI Iraqi university sources, 21 June 2006].

4. Ama Bolton (UK) 8/29/2018 – #35. Nawfal Ahmad: PhD, lecturer at Baghdad University‘s College of Fine Arts. She was assassinated at the front door of her house on 25 December 2005.

5. Ama Bolton (UK) 8/29/2018 – #188. Noel Petros Shammas Matti: Lecturer at the College of Medicine, Mosul University. Married and father of two daughters, he was kidnapped and found dead August 4, 2005.

6. Andrea Hassiba (USA) – 9/3/2018 – #203. Unidentified female university professor: The professor of law was assassinated in front of her home in the al-Intissar district of western Mosul by unknown gunmen on Tuesday, the local police said. They declined to give her name. [Source: PressTV, April 21, 2009].

7. Laura Russell (USA) – 9/3/2018 – #240. Karem Mohsen: PhD and lecturer at Department of Agriculture, College of Agronomy, Basra University. Killed 10 April 2006. He worked in the field of honeybee production. Lecturers and students called for a demonstration to protest for his assassination. *Tamsin Smith – 9/5/2018 -#322. Unknown Identity: Specialty and University unknown. On July 14, 2010, unidentified gunmen riding in a car shot a university professor dead as he was leaving his home in the
University District, West Baghdad, according to the report of an official security source. [Source: AKnews, July 14, 2010].

8. Elizabeth Bell (USA) – 9/17/2018 – #209. Hakim Malik al-Zayadi: PhD in Arabic philology, lecturer in Arabic literature at al-Qadisyia University. Dr. al-Zayadi was born in Diwaniya and was killed in Latifiya when he was traveling from Baghdad 24 July 2005

9. Mavina Baker (UK) – 9/17/2018 – #245. Kathum Mashhout: Lecturer in edaphology at the College of Agriculture, Basra University. Killed in Basra in December 2006 [exact date unknown]. [Source: CEOSI Iraqi university sources, 12 December 2006].

10. Tariq Dajani (Jordan) – 9/22/ 2018 – #173. Ibrahim Shaeer Jabbar Al-Jumaili: Pediatrician and professor of Medicine at Kirkuk University. Dr. Ibrahim S.J. Al-Jumaili, 55 years old, was murdered July 22, 2011, after he resisted attempts by four people to kidnap him, police said. [Source: AFP, July 22, 2011].

11. Ines Bellach (Germany) – 9/24/2018 – #11. Fouad Abrahim Mohammed al-Bayaty: PhD in German philology, professor and head of College of Philology, Baghdad University. Killed Abril 19, 2005.

12. Catherine Cartwright (UK) – /25/2018 – #269. Mais Ganem Mahmoud: Lecturer at Baquba University. Department and college unknown. Killed at the end of April, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education. [Source: CEOSI university Iraqi sources, 10 May 2006].

13. Pieretta Sakellariou (Greece) – 9/26/2018 – #135. Abdul Sami al-Janabi: Deputy President of the Baghdad University of Technology. Missing after being kidnapped during the third week of January 2007. In 2004, Abdul Sami al-Janabi was dean of al-Mustansiriya University‘s College of Sciences in Baghdad. He resigned from this position after paramilitary forces threatened to kill him. Such forces began then to occupy university centers in the capital. Transferred by the Ministry of Higher Education to a new position to preserve his security, Sami al-Janabi has almost certainly been assassinated. (Source: CEOSI Iraqi university 23 January 2007).

14. Summer Brenner (USA) – 10/4/2018 – #71. Jassim al-Assadi’s wife (name unknown): Lecturer at College of Administration and Economy, Baghdad University [Source: CEOSI Iraqi sources and Time Magazine, 2 October 2006].

15. Carl Middleton (UK) – 10/8/2018 – #197. Unknown: Lecturer at Mosul University killed in the explosion of two car bombs near campus, October 1, 2007. In this attack six other people were injured, among them four students. (Source KUNA, October 1, 2007).

16. Bonny Nahmias – 10/11/2018 – #95. Aki Thakir Alaany: PhD and lecturer at the College of Literature, al-Mustansiriya University. Date unknown.

17. Fatima ElKalay (Egypt) – 10/16/2018 – #131. Name unknown: Lecturer at Baghdad University of Technology. Killed 27 June 2006 by a group of armed men. They were driving a vehicle in the Baghdad neighborhood of al-Mansur and shot him without stopping. Next day, students and professors staged demonstrations in all universities across the country opposing the assassination and kidnapping of professors and lecturers. [Source: al-Jazeera and Jordan Times, 27 June 2006].

18. Cecilia Mandrile (Argentina) – 10/23/2018 – #81. Nihad Mohammed al-Rawi: Professor of Civil Engineering and deputy president of Baghdad University. Shot dead 26 June 2007 in al-al-Jadria Bridge, a few meters away from the university campus, when exiting with his daughter Rana, whom he protected from the shots with his body. (Sources: BRussells Tribunal and CEOSI Iraqi university sources, 26-27 June 2007 )

19. Safaa Ammar (UK) – 10/26/2018 – #204. Unknown: lecturer at Mosul University. On May 24, 2009, gunmen ambushed killed a university teacher near his home in Al Andalus neighborhood, Mosul. [Source: The New York Times May 24, 2009].

20. David Sullivan (US) – 11/01/2018 – #178. Eman Abd-Almonaom Yunis: PhD in translation, lecturer in the College of Humanities, Mosul University, Killed August 30, 2004. NINEVEH Mosul University.

21. Marcos Goymil (Argentina) – 11/02/2018 – #8. Basil al-Karji: PhD in chemistry, lecturer at Baghdad University. Date unknown.

22. Joe Lamb (USA) – 12/30/2018 – #12. Haifa Alwan al-Hil: PhD in physics, lecturer at Baghdad University‘s College of Science for Women. Assassinated September 7, 2003

23. Peter Annand (Australia) – 12/30/2018 – #22. Majed Nasser Hussein al-Maamoori: Professor of veterinary medicine at Baghdad University‘s College of Veterinary Medicine. Assassinated February 17, 2007.

24. Lilla Duignan (UK) – 1/21/2019 – #251. Salah Abdelaziz Hashim: PhD and lecturer in fine arts at the Technical Institute of Basra. Kidnapped in 4 April 2006. He was found shot dead the next day. According to other sources, Dr Hashim was machine-gunned from a vehicle, injuring also a number of students.

25. Wendy Miller (USA) – 1/21/2019 – #163. Amal Maamlaji: IT professor at the al-Mansour University in Baghdad. She was born in Kerbala and got involved in human rights – particularly women‘s rights. She was shot dead in an ambush while driving her car [160 bullets were found in her car] according to her husband, Athir Haddad, to whom France24 interviewed by telephone. [Source: France24, July 4, 2008].

26. Sarah Bodman (UK) – 1/30/2019 – #267. Mis Mecchan: Lecturer at Baquba University. Department and college unknown. Wife of Professor Lez Mecchan, also assassinated. Both were killed with another colleague 19 April 2006. [Sources: DPC and EFE, 19 April 2006].

27. Amal Al-Jubouri (Iraq) – 2/6/2019 – #298. Khawla Mohammed Taqi Zwain: PhD in medicine, lecturer at College of Medicine, Kufa University. Killed May 12, 2006.

28. Kristin Scheel (USA) 2/12/2019 – #93. Aalim Abdul Hameed: PhD in preventive medicine, specialist in depleted uranium effects in Basra, dean of the College of Medicine, al- Mustansiriya University. Date unknown.

29. Ivo Mandrile (Argentina) – 2/28/2019 – #67. Isam al-Raui: Geology PhD, professor at BagHdad’s University and President of the Association of University Professors of Iraq. Murdered on October 30th of 2006 in an assault performed by armed men, in which two other professors were also injured. (Sources: CEOSI and Associated Press)

30. Kent Manske (USA) – 3/9/2019 – #113. Saad Mehdi Shalash: PhD in history and lecturer in history at the College of Arts, al-Mustansiriya University, and editor of the newspaper Raya al-Arab. Shot dead at his home with his wife 26 October 2006. (Source: al-Quds al-Arabi, 27 October 2006)

31. David Ginsberg (USA) – 3/21/19 – #76. Majed Nasser Hussain: PhD and lecturer at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Baghdad University. He was killed in front of his wife and daughter while leaving home in the third week of January 2007. Nasser Hussain had been kidnapped two years before and freed after paying a ransom. [Source: CEOSI Iraqi university sources, 23 January 2007

32. Felicia Rice (USA) 3/23/19 – #162. Thamer Kamel Mohamed: Head of the Department of Human Rights at the Ministry of Higher Education. Shot on 22 February 2010 on his way to work in one of main Baghdad streets [al-Qanat Street]. The assassins used silencers fitted in their guns. [Source: CEOSI Iraqi university sources, February 23, 2006 and Alernet].

33. Geneffa Jonker (USA) 4/6/2019 – #117. Najeeb [or Nadjat] al-Salihi: Lecturer in the College of Psychology at al-Mustansiriya University and head of the Scientific Committee of the Ministry of Higher Education of Iraq. Al-Salihi, 39 years old, was kidnapped close to campus and his body, shot dead, was found 20 days after his disappearance in Baghdad morgue. His family was able recover his body only after paying a significant amount of money, October 1, 2006. [Source: CEOSI Iraqi university sources].

34. Hassan Abdulrazzak (Iraq) 7/5/2019 – #9. Essam Sharif Mohammed: PhD in history, professor in Department of History and head of the College of Humanities, Baghdad University. Dead October 25, 2003.

35. Anahid Kassabian (UK) – 7/5/2019 – #38. Rafi Sarcisan Vancan: Bachelor of English language, lecturer at Baghdad University‘s College of Women‘s Studies. Assassinated June 9, 2003.

36. Zoe Lafferty (UK) – 7/5/2019 – #89. Mudhafar Mahmoud: associate professor in the Geology Department in the College of Science, University of Baghdad. Dr Mahmoud was assassinated on 28 November 2010 near his house in Baghdad. [Source: Iraqi source to BRussells Tribunal on 1st December, 2010.] 90

37. Professor Deryn Rees-Jones (UK) – 7/5/2019 – #150. Sami Sitrak: Professor of English and dean of al-Nahrein University‘s College of Law. Professor Sitrak was killed 29 March 2007. He had been appointed dean of the College after the former dean‘s resignation following an attempt to kill him along with three other College lecturers. [Source: Iraqi Association of University Lecturers, April 7, 2007.

38. Diyan Zora (Iraq/UK) – 7/5/2019 – #177. Abdul Aziz El-Atrachi: PhD in Plant Protection in the College of Agronomy and Forestry, Mosul University. He was killed by a loose bullet shot by and American soldier. Date unknown.

39. Leo G. Svendsen (UK) 7/5/2019 – #223. Hussein Yasin: PhD in physics, lecturer in sciences at Basra University Killed 18 February 2004 at his home and in front of his family.

40. Amina Atiq (Liverpool – Yemen) – 7/5/2019 – #248. Muayad Ahmad Jalaf: Lecturer at the College of Arts, Basra University. Kidnapped 10 September 2007 by a group of armed men that was driving three cars, one of them with a government license plate. He was found dead in a city suburb the next day. [Source: Iraqi university sources to the BRussells Tribunal, September 12, 2007].

41. Tania Baban (USA) – 11/25/19 – #1. Abbas al-Attar: PhD in humanities, lecturer at Baghdad University‘s College of Humanities. Date unknown.

42. Tania Baban (USA) – 11/25/19 – #40. Sabri Mustafa al-Bayaty: PhD in geography, lecturer at Baghdad University‘s College of Humanities. Killed June 13, 2004.

43. Jim Natal (USA) – 3/10/20 – #246. Mohammed Aziz Alwan: Lecturer in artistic design at the College of Fine Arts, Basra University. Killed by armed men 26 May 2007 while walking in the city. [Source: CEOSI university Iraqi sources, June 1, 2007].

44. Heather Hughes (USA) – 3/30/20 – #172. Abdel Sattar Tahir Sharif: Lecturer at Kirkuk University. Department and college unknown. 75-years-old, he was assassinated March 5, 2008 by armed men in the district of Shoraw, 10 kilometers northeast of Kirkuk. (Source: Aswat al-Iraq / Voices of Iraq, 5 March 2008)

45. Persis Karim (USA) – 4/17/20 – # 180. Leila [or Lyla] Abdu Allah al-Saad: PhD in law, dean of Mosul University‘s College of Law. Assassinated in June 22, 2004.

46. Persis Karim (USA) – 4/17/20 – # 183. Muneer al-Khiero: PhD in law and lecturer in the College of Law, Mosul University. Married to Dr Leila Abdu Allah al-Saad, also assassinated. Date unknown.

47. Karen Chew (USA) – 5/4/20 – #111. Basem Habib Salman: Lecturer at the College of Medicine at alMustansiriya University. [Source: Iraqi Association of University Lecturers report, March 2006].

Shadow and Light exhibition
Liverpool Arab Arts Festival 2019
Saturday 6 July – Saturday 13 July | Northern Lights, Liverpool, UK

This UK exhibition showcased recent responses alongside ephemera and the list of murdered academics. It sought to memorialise and honour them as well as reaffirming the importance of pedagogy and freedom.

Images courtesy of Julia Thorne.