TAARII-sponsored MESA Panel: Minorities, Identities and the Modern Iraqi State

TAARII is pleased to be sponsoring the following panel at the Middle East Studies Association 47th Annual Meeting in New Orleans from October 10–13, 2013.

The panel, [P3266] Minorities, Identities and the Modern Iraqi State, will take place on Saturday, October 12, at 5:00 p.m.


Minorities have featured prominently in the debates surrounding the establishment of the modern Iraqi state. During the period between 1920–2003, colonial and local officials played an important and influential role in shaping the place of minorities within the social, political, and cultural institutions of the state. Various pieces of legislation and decrees were passed during the colonial and post-colonial periods that led to massive communalist struggles, tensions, and hostilities that defined the interactions between the state and minority communities well into the post-colonial period. Leaders of various minority populations were also involved in carving a place for their own communities within the social and political spaces of the modern Iraqi state. Minority identities were influenced greatly by both state and community based activities. Historians and social scientists have devoted a great deal of attention to the study of Iraq’s minority populations, however contextualizing the social and political histories of the various minority communities within the history of the modern Iraqi state is still lacking.

This panel will contextualize Iraq’s various minority communities within the social and political history of the modern state. This will help scholars to better understand the historical developments that led to the creation of Iraq’s multiple identities. In order to accomplish these goals this panel will highlight three minority communities: Assyrians, Kurds, and Shi’ites. Assyrians will be analyzed during the mandate and post mandate periods both as a refugee community and as citizens of a republic. Writings of communist Kurds will illuminate the relationship of this community with the Iraqi state. Finally, religious institutions of Shi’ites (a political minority) will be discussed in relation to the Ba’thist rule. The following questions will be addressed: How did the colonial and post-colonial Iraqi state influence the identity of minority populations? How did various minorities view themselves in the context of the newly created state? What role did the transnational nature of Iraq’s minority communities’ play in the way they perceived themselves within the social and political apparatuses of the state? What role did war and violence play in creating minority identities in Iraq?

Panelists & Papers

For more information, visit MESA’s website and the panel’s page