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Ethnicity, federalism and the idea of sectarian citizenship in Iraq: a critique

31-12-2007 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 868, by Reidar Visser

The article discusses the “ethnic paradigm” that currently prevails in analyses of Iraqi history and politics. While acknowledging the strong forces associated with ethnic and sectarian loyalties in the country, the article points to three important indicators of the surviving Iraqi nationalist sentiment that cuts across these ethno-sectarian categories.

   

Reidar Visser
is a research fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs and   editor of the Iraq website www.historiae.org

 
Abstract 
The article discusses the ‘‘ethnic paradigm’’ that currently prevails in analyses of Iraqi history and politics. While acknowledging the strong forces associated with ethnic and sectarian loyalties in the country, the article points to three important indicators of the surviving Iraqi nationalist sentiment that cut across these ethno-sectarian categories. It highlights the misfit between Western approaches to Iraqi politics and indigenous Iraqi political thinking on ethnicity and sectarianism, and pays special attention to the implications for the debates about federalism and the partitioning – ‘‘soft’’ or ‘‘hard’’ – of Iraq.

   
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