Beyond structure and agency: Rethinking political identities in Iraq after 2003

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This paper examines ethno-symbolic and instrumental explanations of ethnic and sectarian identities placed within the constructivist turn in the study of political identity, both in the abstract and how they have been deployed to explain the increasing contemporary influence of ethnosectarian mobilisation in Iraq and the wider Middle East. The paper identifies explanatory value in these approaches but finds their focus on either ideational structures or individual rationality too narrow to provide a comprehensive explanation of what happened to political identities in Iraq after 2003. Instead, the paper deploys what can be termed a ‘Bourdieusian method’, in an attempt to get beyond the polarities of structure and agency. It uses Bourdieu's conceptions of political field, principles of vision and division and symbolic violence to understand the influence that de-Ba'athification, the creation of the Muhasasa Ta'ifia or sectarian apportionment system and national elections had on political identities in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.




Dodge, T. (2020). Beyond structure and agency: Rethinking political identities in Iraq after 2003. Nations and Nationalism, 26(1), 108–122.

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