Madeline Otis Campbell, Interpreters of Occupation: Gender and the Politics of Belonging in an Iraqi Refugee Network (Syracuse University Press 2016)
This year’s honorable mention is Interpreters of Occupation, by Madeline Otis Campbell. Her work, grounded in an anthropological approach, addresses the ways in which Iraqi translators confronted their experiences during combat in Iraq and, subsequently, as they were transplanted to the U.S. Through a creative and multi-faceted analysis, Otis Campbell brings Iraq and the U.S. together in a transnational analysis that is attentive to the nuances of gender and the subtleties of gendered transformations as subjects traverse the boundaries of war into empire. She follows the life narratives of her subjects/friends—both men and women—laying bare the difficulties of navigating gender discourses and roles, as well as her subjects’ interpretations of masculinity and conditions of transnationality. The fluidity and shifting nature of Otis Campbell’s community/ies is so well-depicted and expertly written that she renders the state of war and landlessness almost filmic. Within these unstable situations she embeds an analysis of changing gender norms, rapid shifts in gender roles, ideology, family structures and sentiments. This work will be of interest to scholars as well as policy-makers and especially to immigration agencies and experts, furthering gender analysis in the field of Middle East studies.