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The problem of Iraqi nationalism

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This article analyses the development of a tenuous Iraqi national identity since the creation of the Iraqi state in 1920. Informed by the ideas of Anthony D. Smith, Benedict Anderson and Eric Hobsbawm, it argues that various political actors in Iraq have sought to reshape historical memory and thus forge a national identity. Despite many setbacks and a long series of authoritarian regimes seeking to appropriate Iraqiness for their own political purposes, and recently the threat from Kurdish irredentism, this article nevertheless contends that an Iraqi cultural ‘ethnicity’ has been created over the past nine decades.

Keywords: Iraq; Iraqism; nation building; national identity; nationalism; pan-Arabism

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Political, Social and International Studies,University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK

Publication date: 2011-09-01

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