State, Oil, and War in the Formation of Iraq
Nida Alahmad is Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh’s Politics and International Relations department. She is currently completing a book manuscript with the tentative title State Matters: theorizing the state and its experts through the Iraqi experience.
Over the past few decades, three themes—the state, oil, and war—have shaped both Iraqi politics and Iraqi studies. These themes emerge from Iraq’s modern history and its representation in academia. Academic work on Iraq witnessed a number of shifts that can be traced to two interrelated factors: access to primary source material, and the political context of the time. In this chapter, I argue that state, oil, and war are interrelated themes rather than definitively bounded categories that determine certain political economy effects. They are markers in historical processes that, since the late nineteenth century, involved the formation of social relations often organized by conceptual categories such as class, sect, nation, and gender. These social relations have constantly informed and constituted one another within particular material and historical contexts.
Keywords: Iraq, State, War, Oil, Class, Infrastructure, development projects