The popular imagination and the intellectual study of Babylon generally exclude any notion or understanding of the people who live most closely to it. Inscribed in 2019 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, little is known about the ways in which Babylon, located in Iraq’s Babil province, is viewed by the Iraqi people, most notably by the residents of al Hillah, the provincial capital. Institutional legacies and political structures brought about by the quest to capture and appropriate Babylon by US-European Empires, the rule of dictatorships and more recently the US Occupation as well as the outcomes of post-2003 sectarian-promoted politics, have constituted heritage trajectories that have been dispossessive and exclusionary of people from negotiating sustainable connections to Iraq’s ancient history. In this context, this paper examines Iraqi perspectives of those living and working in close proximity to Babylon and the ways in which connections to the historical site are negotiated in everyday life.
Published in the International Journal of Heritage Studies, 2020.