One Iraq or Many: What Has Happened to Iraqi Identity?

  • Phebe Marr


Since 2003, Iraq has undergone a series of upheavals, including occupation, insurgency, terrorism, and some of the worst sectarian strife in its history. Ethnic tensions between Kurds and Arabs may also be stretched to a point of no return, leaving the Iraqi state and any sense of Iraqi identity, which must undergird it, severely weakened. While it is too early to tell which way Iraqi identity is going, it is time to reexamine the past. How did Iraq get to this point? Has the sense of Iraqi identity been a myth all along, as some claim? Are ethnic, tribal, and sectarian differences “primordial,” papered over and disguised by the British creation of a state from three Ottoman provinces in 1920? How much of the current identity crisis is a result of more recent circumstances, including Saddam Husayn’s repressive regime and the disruptive U.S. occupation? If these identities are not primordial, have they been better managed in the past, and if so, how? Most important for the future, are the Iraqi state and Iraqi identity gone?


Political Party Middle East Arab World Modern History Sectarian Difference 
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Copyright information

© Amatzia Baram, Achim Rohde, and Ronen Zeidel 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Phebe Marr

There are no affiliations available

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