Alissa Walter receives Graves Award

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR of History Alissa Walter ’08 won the prestigious Arnold L. Graves and Lois S. Graves Award in the Humanities. The $11,000 award will help fund Walter’s travels to Iraq, Kuwait, and Washington, D.C., related to her research on Iraqi history.

Walter, who specializes in the Middle East and speaks Arabic, plans to draw from Iraqi archival documents and conduct oral history interviews for her forthcoming book on how authoritarian rulers governed Iraq’s capital city of Baghdad from 1950 to 2011. She is also beginning research projects on the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait in 1990 and 1991.

Her book will cover the distribution of food rations during economic sanctions in the 1990s and changes to the criminal justice system in the early 2000s, as well as a chapter examining the impact in Baghdad after Americans helped to create a neighborhood council system in the capital following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. (The Graves Award will enable Walter to complete the research necessary to finalize her book manuscript by December 2023.)

The award will also help Walter create a virtual cultural-exchange partnership between students at SPU and students in the Middle East.

“One of my goals as a history professor is to help students develop empathetic understandings of different perspectives and to practice adopting multiple points of view,” Walter said. “To achieve this in my classes on Islamic civilization and Middle Eastern history, I plan to develop ‘pen pal’ relationships between my students and college students in Iraq or Kuwait using video messaging.”

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