“Iraqnophobia”: A Biomedical History of State-Rearing and Shock Doctrine in Iraq



The history of Western foreign policy in the Middle East has long assimilated Arab culture to sickness. Specifically, the biological episteme of “contamination” has shaped American foreign policy in the Gulf for decades. In so doing, the US Government continually borrowed references from the natural sciences to frame its foreign policy, leading some commentators to claim that biology supplanted philosophy and religion as the primary political category. The article analyses the semantics of Iraqnophobic metaphors, from the British experience of “nursing” Arabs at the close of the First World War to the recent “shock doctrine” of American therapists. First, the paper will concentrate its attention on the metaphors of disinfection and surgical resection. Second, it will address the metaphors of lustration, State-rearing and scientific recovery. Finally, it will explore Iraqis’ rebellion against their self-appointed tutors and doctors. Elaborating on the belligerents’ nursing and biomedical metaphors, the following pages address the life cycle of foreign “legal transplantation”, “antibody” resistance and “immunosuppressant” counterinsurgency in Iraq.


Metaphor Iraq British Empire Nursing United States Shock doctrine Legal transplant 



I wish to thank Rose Parfitt, Peta Mitchell, Olivier Barsalou, Georges A. Lebel, Tina Beigi, Deborah Bonnie Rose, Audrey MacKay, the anonymous reviewers of the Journal and the organizers of the Melbourne Doctoral Forum on Legal Theory and "Contamination" held 9 and 10 December 2013 at the Melbourne Law School.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Law FacultyUniversity of Quebec in MontrealMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Centre for the Study of International Law and Globalization (CÉDIM)MontrealCanada

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