Visualising War and Peace

Iraqi Women, Art and War with Rana Ibrahim

May 19, 2021 The University of St Andrews Season 1 Episode 7
Visualising War and Peace
Iraqi Women, Art and War with Rana Ibrahim
Show Notes

In this week's episode, Alice and Nicolas interview Iraqi artist Rana Ibrahim. Rana trained as an archaeologist and museum curator; but her childhood and early adulthood were dominated by conflict, and she ended up seeking refuge as a forced migrant in the UK following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. After settling in Oxford, she founded the Iraqi Women, Art and War Group, a community project that gives women who have been affected by conflict an opportunity to process their experiences and tell their stories through art.

The artwork they have produced has been curated into an exhibition entitled ‘Of Ordinary Things’. Representations of conflict often focus on fighting, destruction, loss and death. The pieces in this exhibition are different: they aim to capture the everyday, the lives that people try to live in the shadow of conflict, and above all how women experience war. In this podcast Rana talks about the role that art can play in processing and preserving memories, both good and bad. She also talks about the importance of de-centring the fighting in our visualisations of war and foregrounding ordinary people's experiences of living in a war zone, both to capture the bigger picture and to remind people that the impacts of conflict continue long after troops have withdrawn.

Among other questions, we asked Rana: 

  • what inspired her to set up the Iraqi Women, Art and War Group
  • what kinds of stories the women in this group want to tell about war
  • why she and her fellow artists want to foreground the everyday 'ordinary things' of life in a war zone, and women's experiences in particular
  • how the artwork that they have produced might shift our habits of visualising the Iraq War in particular and war more generally

We hope you enjoy the episode!

For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. If you would like to see the images discussed in this podcast, you can find bonus material on our project blog.  You can view more of Rana's artwork and some short films about the Iraqi Women, Art and War Group  at

For more information about individuals and their projects, access to resources and more, please have a look on the University of St Andrews Visualising War website

Music composed by Jonathan Young
 Sound mixing by Zofia Guertin