Political awakenings in an artificial state: Iraq, 1914-20

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Rather than addressing the dated debate of Iraq's 'artificiality', this article analyses the evolution of the term 'Iraq' and by extension the evolution in frames of self-definition in the years 1914-20. I use three key events (the anti-British jihad of 1914, the Najaf rebellion of 1918 and the rebellion of 1920) and examine the discourse that accompanied the events to analyse the changing categories of self-identification on the mid-Euphrates. A clearly discernible ontological evolution of 'Iraq' in the popular imagination is revealed thereby clarifying and explaining the rapid rise and adoption of Iraqi nationalism in the early twentieth century.

Keywords: Iraq; Najaf Rebellion of 1918; Ottoman Empire; identity; jihad 1914; nationalism; rebellion of 1920, Iraq; state formation

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/ijcis.6.1.3_1

Affiliations: University of London

Publication date: April 30, 2012

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  • The International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies is a new peer-reviewed, tri- annual, academic publication devoted to the study of modern Iraq. In recognition of Iraq's increasingly important position on the world stage, the time is right for a new journal dedicated to scholarly engagement with the country.
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