“Relations, partnerships and collaborations make research possible in the first place”
By Dorota Woroniecka-Krzyżanowska
It comes as no surprise, perhaps, that a socio-historical research project that aims to explore knowledge relations between the Polish People’s Republic and Iraq is in itself very much dependent on different kinds of collaboration. Here, the relations, partnerships and cooperation in the field of academia are the very subject under study: in the case I currently focus on, it is the involvement of architects from Wroclaw University of Technology in the development of the Department of Architecture, University of Mosul, in the 1980s. The Gulf War of 1990 ended the cooperation abruptly and, due to the ensuing embargo on Iraq, cut the connections between institutions and people for decades to come. One of the unexpected outcomes of my project has been the willingness, on both sides, to re-establish these connections. While for now it has taken the form of informal contacts, we hope it will evolve into more formalized cooperation between the Wroclaw University of Technology and the University of Mosul.
Other than being the subject under study, the relations, partnerships and collaborations are also what makes the research possible in the first place. Institutional support from the Department of Architecture, University of Mosul, allowed me to travel to Mosul and conduct interviews. More importantly, however, the involvement and enthusiasm of research participants who were willing to share their memories allowed me to go forward, even now during the corona virus lockdown when physical travel is very restricted. While in general I was positively surprised by how much the research participants were ready to support my project through online communication, it has been collaboration with Mr Emad Rammo that made this period particularly fruitful. Himself a graduate of the Department in the 1980s, Mr Rammo runs a website where he posts detailed articles about different aspects of local history, architecture and culture. Not only has he been very supportive of my research by sharing many materials and memories, but he also decided to document and commemorate the Wrocław-Mosul connection on his website. Starting from the end of March, Mr Rammo published several detailed articles on respective Polish lecturers who taught at the Department. The articles bring together his and his fellow students’ memories on the Polish lecturers, unpublished archival materials and a lot of background information that help to understand the social realities of the period. Other than being a great source of data, these articles attracted a community of former students, who also began to share their opinions, memories and photographs. If anyone had asked me in February this year if I was able to conduct my research online, I would have said definitely not. I am very grateful to be have been proven wrong and look forward for the many more partnerships and collaborations that, I am sure, will ensue in the further course of this research.
Find out more about Dorota Woroniecka-Krzyżanowska and her research here.