AMNA NAWAZ: This week marks 20 years since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and many are still peace together what happened in those days and the years that followed.
"NewsHour" digital senior editor Yasmeen Alamiri spoke to Sana Murrani of the University of Plymouth in England about Ruptured Domesticity, a project that collects the memories and artifacts of Iraqis during the war, and how they held on to the concept of home.
YASMEEN ALAMIRI: You headed up a multipart project, part of which is archiving these memories of the war of Iraqis who were living inside and outside the country during that time.
Can you talk to us a little bit about why you decided to pursue this project and what came of it?
SANA MURRANI, University of Plymouth: Something that I really wanted to understand is, what was happening across the country when Baghdad was getting bombarded during the 2003 invasion?
I had no idea.
We were in Baghdad, but I did not know what was going on in Mosul, what was going on in Basra, what was going on elsewhere.
So, the archive idea came because I really wanted the world to see this.
I wanted it to be the collective voice of Iraqis.
YASMEEN ALAMIRI: War is traumatic for everybody involved.
And when you have years, decades of war, what you end up with is generational trauma.
I wonder about how that enduring trauma has impacted the way that Iraqis interact with the country, but also their memory or their understanding of what it means to be Iraqi.
SANA MURRANI: Through the conversations that I have had with Iraqis from the north to the south of Iraq, they kept on coming back to this thing of, we never documented what was going on to us at the time.
We don't have records, especially during the 2003 invasion, when mobile phones and cameras, digital cameras, weren't readily available for people.
So, there was this thing of trauma that lingers, trauma that is carried with you.
And it resurfaces in very different ways.
It sometimes resurfaces in PTSD, which we have seen across the world happening with people engaged in wars in Iraq and elsewhere, but also in collective creative outlet of that, where you see a burst of cultural belongings and tendency to want to make change happen.
YASMEEN ALAMIRI: As an Iraqi who has lived outside of the country as well, what does it mean to you to be Iraqi?
SANA MURRANI: It changes.
So, I kind of remember, when I first came out of Iraq, when people used to ask me the question, my answer was very different to what is -- what it is now, right now.
I find it in the connections to the beautiful music, to the wonderful food that we have, to the language that is spoken from the gut, with passion, to the -- kind of the Iraqi humor that is retrieved and found and kind of emerges in your face in the darkest of times.
I see myself an Iraqi right in the center of all of that.
So it is a tapestry.
But I kind of feel that this is always going to be in the making.
It's never going to have a form or an end to its making.
And I love that about it.
But there is certainly a yearning for a home that I kind of thought that it's always going to be there and it's never going to fade for me.
AMNA NAWAZ: And that was just part of Yasmeen's conversation with Sana Murrani.
You can watch the full version and see more from Murrani's project online at PBS.org/NewsHour.