Urban Sights: Urban History and Visual CultureMain MenuIntroductionConflicting Visions of Renewal in Pittsburgh's Hill District, 1950-1968 by Laura GrantmyreSan Francisco Views: Robert Bechtle and the Reformulation of Urban Vision by Bridget GilmanVisualizing Iraq: Oil, Cinema, and the Modern City by Mona DamlujiFilmic Witness to the 1964 Kitty Genovese Murder by Carrie RentschlerBuses from Nowhere: Television and Anti-busing Activism in 1970s Urban America by Matt DelmontMona Damluji89c6177132ce9094bd19f4e5159eb300a76ef0dfMatthew F. Delmont5676b5682f4c73618365582367c04a35162484d5Bridget Gilman032da9b6b9003c284100547a1d63b1ed9aca49e2Laura Grantmyre8add17c1c26ed9de6b804f44312bd03052f5735eCarrie Rentschlere7ded604f66cae2062fa490f51234edecd44a076
Iraq Petroleum Company film unit.
12014-11-14T10:32:52-08:00Mona Damluji89c6177132ce9094bd19f4e5159eb300a76ef0df2553Abdul Latif Saleh (right). Source: Film Userplain2016-05-25T19:11:47-07:00Leonard Butingan7a14423b150626a983f2746324cfa4a37fcf879f
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12014-06-30T19:18:25-07:00Conclusion15plain2016-05-04T16:34:32-07:00The Iraq Petroleum Company films actively produced a discursive and visual argument about petroleum’s promise to modernize Iraq through images of its capital Baghdad. Documentary film was a powerful medium through which the oil company and the state promoted its narrative to legitimate its operations in Iraq. Images of new boulevards, schools, public buildings, automobile traffic and double decker buses signified the modernization of the built environment. This was held up on screen as evidence of petroleum’s promise. These films are efforts to imagine the modern nation of Iraq and naturalize oil wealth using images of the built environment to construct a modern geography of national territory, national history and national identity.
The films examined in this essay deliberately projected IPC's imaginary of modern Iraq to Iraqis. The Third River was the oil company’s first attempt to use film to communicate directly with Iraqi audiences and craft a story of oil as the harbinger of development rather than the symbol of imperialism to Iraqis residing in all parts of the country. The IPC cine-magazine Beladuna removed the oil company from the image of Iraq completely. The IPC film unit focused instead on making short films about the transformations affecting the people of Iraq and region, most of which did not relate to the oil industry in any obvious way. For example, in A More Beautiful Capital, the destruction of Baghdad’s old neighbourhoods was rationalized as evidence of modernity, making way for new construction of 'beautiful' public buildings and modernist housing estates.
The collective experience of watching cinema is powerful and fosters the possibility of a national imaginary as well as a distinct experience of urban modernity. The Iraq Petroleum Company projected its films to citizens across Iraq, from oil workers in the fields and residents of Baghdad in the city centre. In colloquial Arabic, the narration put words to the moving pictures of modern Iraq that linked these distant communities across the country.