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Nimo’s War, Emma’s War

Nimo’s War, Emma’s War: Making Feminist Sense of the Iraq War

Cynthia Enloe
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Nimo’s War, Emma’s War
    Book Description:

    Nimo, Maha, Safah, Shatha, Emma, Danielle, Kim, Charlene. In a book that once again blends her distinctive flair for capturing the texture of everyday life with shrewd political insights, Cynthia Enloe looks closely at the lives of eight ordinary women, four Iraqis and four Americans, during the Iraq War. Among others, Enloe profiles a Baghdad beauty parlor owner, a teenage girl who survived a massacre, an elected member of Parliament, the young wife of an Army sergeant, and an African American woman soldier. Each chapter begins with a close-up look at one woman’s experiences and widens into a dazzling examination of the larger canvas of war’s gendered dimensions. Bringing to light hidden and unexpected theaters of operation—prostitution, sexual assault, marriage, ethnic politics, sexist economies—these stories are a brilliant entryway into an eye-opening exploration of the actual causes, costs, and long-range consequences of war. This unique comparison of American and Iraqi women’s diverse and complex experiences sheds a powerful light on the different realities that together we call, perhaps too easily, “the Iraq war.”

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94595-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Eight Women, One War
    (pp. 1-16)

    Nimo, Maha, Safah, Shatha, Emma, Danielle, Kim, and Charlene. Four Iraqi women, four American women. I have never met any of these women. But I feel as though I have been living with them for the past six years. They have changed my mind. My mind slips into a particular mood when I think of each of these women. My thoughts orient themselves differently when I give them over to any one of them, while walking to the subway, or standing in line at the post office. Nimo takes me to a small beauty salon where women chat easily, the...


    • CHAPTER TWO Nimo: Wartime Politics in a Beauty Parlor
      (pp. 19-44)

      Nimo uses just her first name for her business. Nimo’s Beauty Salon, her Baghdad shop sign reads in Arabic. Her full name is Nimo Din’Kha Skander. Though small, Nimo’s shop once attracted Saddam Hussein’s wife as a customer. One of the president’s several palatial compounds was nearby. In late spring 2003 the area was becoming better known as “the Green Zone,” the heavily fortified 5.6-square-mile area that the American authorities had commandeered as their headquarters.

      In May 2003, just two months after the U.S.-led military invasion of Iraq and the fall of the twenty-four-year-long regime of Saddam Hussein, an American...

    • CHAPTER THREE Maha: A Widow Returns to Baghdad
      (pp. 45-71)

      “I loved Saydia but I can never go back; it broke my heart.” Maha Hashim was explaining to a reporter why she and her four children had been forced out of their home in the Baghdad neighborhood of Saydia and currently were squeezed into her uncle’s small high-rise apartment in another part of the capital. It was December 2007. The Iraq war seemed to be entering yet another new phase. Two years of intense sectarian violence combined with ongoing U.S. military operations had forced many Iraqis, Maha among them, to flee across international borders. Now the newly confident governing elite,...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Safah: The Girl from Haditha
      (pp. 72-92)

      Safah Yunis Salem was thirteen when it happened. She was a teenage girl then, in November 2005, living with her parents, brothers, and sisters, aunts, and uncles in the provincial city of Haditha.¹ Until that day, Haditha had been just a city like many other cities in wartime Iraq, its residents caught up in the town’s own distinctive local political and sectarian allegiances and conflicts, each magnified by the operations of the occupying U.S. military. Haditha is located 150 miles north of Baghdad, in the northeastern region of Anbar province. It sits on the banks of the historic Euphrates River....

    • CHAPTER FIVE Shatha: A Legislator in Wartime
      (pp. 93-126)

      Shatha al-Musawi had known for a long time that she wanted to become involved in politics. Perhaps the desire had its seed in losing her father to political violence as a young girl. In 1980, when Shatha was thirteen, her father was killed by gunmen working for Saddam Hussein’s regime. Two years later, the government’s police struck again. Shatha, now fifteen, was thrown into prison, together with her mother and several other relatives, all branded “undesirables.” When eventually Shatha was told she would be released, she recalled she didn’t want to leave: “I didn’t think life was a secure place.”¹...


    • CHAPTER SIX Emma and the Recruiters
      (pp. 129-149)

      Emma Bedoy-Pina already had one son in the U.S. military. Now military recruiters were trying to persuade her to encourage her second son to enlist. She wasn’t easily persuaded.¹

      It was October 2005. The U.S.-launched war in Iraq was in its third year. It had been three years since the sharp upsurge of American patriotism after the attacks on New York and Washington in September 2001, followed just months later by the U.S.-led military toppling of Afghanistan’s Taliban regime and the first flush of militarized euphoria when American troops rolled into Baghdad in April 2003. By late 2005, Americans’ wartime...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Danielle: From Basketball Court to Baghdad Rooftop
      (pp. 150-170)

      Danielle Green had hoped that the U.S. Army would provide her with the family she yearned for. It had been difficult growing up on Chicago’s South and West sides during the late 1970s and through the 1980s. Three decades later, these neighborhoods would become famous for having given Barack Obama the opportunity to hone his skills as a community organizer. In the 1970s and 1980s, poverty here was rife, neglect was palpable. Many African American families came unraveled. Danielle’s father was absent, her mother became addicted to drugs. Her aunt took over parenting the young Danielle until she too succumbed...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Kim: “I’m in a Way Fighting My Own War”
      (pp. 171-191)

      Kim Gorski was in her early thirties when the Bush administration decided to launch a military invasion of Iraq. She was a white American woman married to Mike Gorski, a white American man. They were making their young married lives in Hayward, California, part of the sprawling, racially diverse San Francisco Bay Area. They had a house and a mortgage. The couple didn’t yet have children, just two dogs, Chesty and Bosco. Kim was training to become a real estate broker.¹

      The San Francisco Bay Area was an expensive part of the country in which to live in the early...

    • CHAPTER NINE Charlene: Picking Up the Pieces
      (pp. 192-210)

      Charlene Cain worried about her son. Michael had played sports in the local high school and had graduated with decent grades, but he seemed to be floundering. The teenager had passions—the Green Bay Packers memorabilia and Harley Davidson motorcycle accessories. Neither easily translated into an adequate income, much less a career. He had lost interest in going to college. So after graduating from high school in 1999, Michael, like many young men and women from American small towns, had taken a job at Wal-Mart. He had been assigned the job of stocking shelves. He continued to live at home,...

  8. CONCLUSION: The Long War
    (pp. 211-226)

    Abu Nawas Street was becoming lively again. It was early 2009. For years the street that wound its way along the banks of the Tigris in central Baghdad had been famous for its nightclubs. Then came Saddam Hussein’s post–Gulf War efforts to woo religious conservatives, followed, after 2003, by the rise of sectarian militias with their campaign against alcohol—as well as the loss of reliable water and electricity—that forced owners to shutter their nightclubs along Abu Nawas Street.

    Now conditions were looking promising for the club owners. Iraq’s prime minister, trying to demonstrate his secular credentials to...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 227-270)
    (pp. 271-294)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 295-320)