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Reading, imagining and constructing Iraq

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The plight of Iraq in the Arab world is not the exception, but rather the rule. The complete physical, cultural, social and economic destruction of Iraq is currently underway; however, the planning stage for this complete destruction, or, to use Condoleeza Rice’s notorious term, ‘creative chaos’ that would lead to the ‘restructuring’ of the Arab world was put in place by Orientalists such as Bernard Lewis tens of years before the actual process took root. In order to counter such destructive imperialistic forces and discourses, an accurate reading of the situation is of the utmost importance before one can start to imagine and construct a new conception of Iraqi national identity that could withstand and survive all these imperialistically imposed divisionist agendas, which are gnawing away at the very cultural and social fabric that held this region together for hundreds of years. This article will attempt to highlight certain intellectual debates and literary productions that take active part in imagining and constructing an anti-colonial counter discourse that would lead to a new understanding of Iraqi national identity and nation. Work from the political theorist Benedict Anderson, the cultural theorist Edward Said, the Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser and poems from the Iraqi poet Saadi Youssef will be examined in order to shed light on the theoretical and imaginative construction of nation.
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Keywords: Iraq; Iraqiness; Saadi Youssef; creative chaos; culture; imagined communities; nation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Arab Open University/Jordan

Publication date: March 1, 2016

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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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