A medical mystery confronts us with how we are interconnected. An Iraqi physician turned medical anthropologist uncovers how conflict is linked to the evolution and spread of a bacteria that has defeated the world’s superpowers, threatening modern medicine, to ask “if war is a key driver of disease, can we end all wars to save our health?” Dr. Omar Dewachi.

A medical mystery about the unexpected aftermaths of war. In this interactive installation, Iraqi physician turned medical anthropologist Dr. Omar Dewachi will take users on a journey to explore the mystery of Acinetobacter baumannii, also known by its US moniker ‘Iraqibacter’ or ‘ the ‘invisible enemy’. This became a major health threat in 2003 with the US invasion of Iraq, appearing and thriving on the wounds of US soldiers, yet it affected many more Iraqis. This once non-pathogenic organism has become the world’s most antibiotic resistant, which the WHO has named the number one threat to global health and a priority pathogen for research and development.
By pulling together pop culture references, war history, archives and science, this encounter will reveal the many layers of this bacteria’s social history – from the microscopic to the geopolitical, unearthing how the consequences of long term sanctions and war can drive pathogens like Acinetobacter baumannii, which threaten the viability of antibiotics, and our health, globally.


Yasmin Fedda, Director