The Ghosts of Iraq's Marshes: A Virtual Book Talk

by Public and Community Events

Virtual Book Talk

Tue, May 21, 2024

7 PM – 8 PM (GMT+3)

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Join us for the virtual book discussion of The Ghosts of Iraq's Marshes: A History of Conflict, Tragedy, and Restoration, which tells the gripping history of the devastation and resurrection of the Marshes of Iraq, an environmental treasure of the Middle East, now a protected site. The book discussion will be with book co-authors, Steve Lonergran and Jassim Al-Assadi in conversation with Hassan Partow.

About the book:
The Mesopotamian Marshes in southern Iraq, once the largest wetland system on the planet, have been inhabited for thousands of years by the Ma‘dan, or Marsh Arabs, but they remain remote, isolated, and virtually unknown. In the early 1990s, the Saddam Hussein regime drained the Marshes and set out to destroy not only a critical ecosystem but a unique way of life as well. It stands as one of the greatest environmental and humanitarian disasters of the twentieth century. In the wake of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, local residents destroyed the earthen dams built to divert water from the wetlands and the Marshes were reflooded. Their future, however, is in peril.

The Ghosts of Iraq’s Marshes tells the history of the creation, destruction, and revitalization of the Marshes and their inhabitants against the backdrop of the dramatic events that have convulsed Iraq in the past fifty years. It follows the life of Jassim al-Asadi, an irrigation engineer who was jailed and tortured under Saddam Hussein and who subsequently dedicated his life to the reflooding and restoration of the Marshes. He eventually contributed to the Marshes being declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Jassim is eminently relatable, and the stories of his life and other marsh dwellers are infused with pathos, tragedy, humor, and passion.


If you have any questions you would like to ask during the book talk, kindly email them at least 48 hours before the start of the event to:

This book is available worldwide in major bookstores and online booksellers, or through these links:
North America:

The webinar will be live-broadcasted on AUC Press Facebook Page and recorded on AUC Press YouTube Channel after the event.


Steve Lonergan's profile photo

Steve Lonergan

Professor emeritus in the Department of Geography

The University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada

Steve Lonergan is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Geography, Univ. of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada. He holds a BSc in Zoology from Duke University and an MA and PhD in Regional Science from the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Lonergan began his academic career in 1980 at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario before moving to the University of Victoria in 1989. He has held visiting posts at the University of Auckland, Universiti Malaya, and Monash University in Australia. After arriving at the University of Victoria, he founded the university’s Centre for Sustainable Regional Development and later directed the Global Environmental Change and Human Security project for the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change. From 2003 – 2005, he was Director of the Division of Early Warning and Assessment at the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi, Kenya.   

Professor Lonergan’s academic research focuses on water resources and conflict in the Middle East, environmental change and population movement, and the social and economic impacts of climate change. His publications include the 1994 book: Watershed: The Role of Freshwater in the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict. From 2006 – 2010, he led a project funded by the Canadian government titled the “Canada/Iraq Marshlands Initiative,” part of the international effort to support the restoration of the Iraqi Marshes.

Jassim Al-Asadi's profile photo

Jassim Al-Asadi

An Iraqi engineer and environmental activist born in the marshes of southern Iraq

Jassim Al-Asadi holds a degree in engineering from the University of Technology in Baghdad and is managing director of the Chibayish office of Nature Iraq, an environmental non-government organization. Before joining Nature Iraq, he worked on water resource management and techniques of pumping stations for government departments in central and southern Iraq, including the federal Ministry of Water Resources. 

Jassim was born and grew up in the Marshes of southern Iraq and played a pivotal role in the registration of the Marshes as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016. He is a strong advocate for the preservation of the Marshes. Jassim also helped plan the Mesopotamian Marshes National Park and participated in Hawizeh Marsh being designated a wetland of international importance under the RAMSAR Convention.

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