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Bareez Majid nominated for ECHO Award

Iraqi-Kurdish student of Middle Eastern Studies Bareez Majid has been nominated for the ECHO Award. ‘She has a strong personality, though she may appear unassuming at first,’ was the comment from one of her lecturers.

Traumas and collective memory

Bareez Majid
Bareez Majid

As a teenager, Bareez Majid arrived in the Netherlands as a refugee from Iraqi Kurdistan. She now speaks and writes excellent Dutch and English and is following a Research Master’s in Middle Eastern Studies. On the basis of her own experiences, she has developed a strong interest in Memory Studies, which covers subjects such as trauma and collective memory. As a result, Majid is now writing her research master’s thesis on Amna Suraka, the national torture museum in Kurdistan. This former prison was where dissidents were tortured and executed under the rule of Saddam Hussein

A strong personality

While visiting Iraq last winter for her research master’s, she interviewed former prisoners in Amna Suraka about their traumas. ‘Some of them explained that they had had such traumatic experiences that they were not able to speak of them to their families,’ says Majid. She believes her perspective is unique because in Iraq she is both an insider and an outsider. ‘In terms of content, her academic work is very impressive’, commented one of her teachers. ’She takes a critical and thoughtful stance with respect to her own perspectives and those of others.’ ‘She has a strong personality, even though she may seem unassuming at first,’ said another. ‘She likes to participate in discussions, but only if she feels that she has a substantial contribution to make.’

Bareez Majid snapshot

Year of birth: 1987
Background: Iraqi-Kurdish
Study oriogramme: Middle Eastern Studies
I would like to win the ECHO Award because: ‘I see this Award as recognition of the power of diversity, and because it will give me a unique and honourable opportunity to fulfil my life’s purpose: to help war survivors in post-conflict societies overcome their traumas.’ 

Young minorities

At the age of 22, Majid enrolled in the Social Work programme of the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences. After completing the first-year phase, she switched to the Bachelor’s in Literary Studies and Dutch Literature of the VU University Amsterdam. She then proceeded to her current master’s programme in Leiden. Driven by her personal interests, she has worked for the multicultural youth organisations Young Vision and De Slinger, for whom she developed various workshops and training weekends. She also worked on optimising the qualities and ambitions of young people from ethnic minorities.

Work for children's book publisher

In Iraq Majid worked together with children’s books publisher Baaldaar Publishing Centre on a project in which literature is used as an instrument to promote critical thinking in children. In this context she was also asked to organise a workshop for the World Monuments Fund and she used the former prison of Amna Suraka as a case study. Majid: ‘This gave me the opportunity to show how important remembrance places can be in giving words to a traumatic history. These places ultimately contribute to our historical consciousness.’

ECHO Award

The ECHO Award is a national award to stimulate top talent from ethnic minorities in the Netherlands. On 21 May 2015 the Award will be presented for the fifteenth consecutive year to two distinguished, non-Western ethnic minority students in higher education (one student from higher professional education and one from academic education). The winners are invited to follow a summer course at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). ECHO Award

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