Discourses on Statehood in Iraq (Christian Thuselt)

The project builds on an interpretative-constructivist approach and attempts to bring together two research paradigms that have hardly been connected so far: the study of spatially bound identity patterns in political geography and a political science perspective on the constitution of political orders. It is argued that three dimensions of political-territorial orders can be analytically distinguished: (1) socio-cultural differentiations separate an "us" from the "others" (identity) and (2) in many cases naturalize this differentiation with, among other things, the demarcation of spaces through the location of supposedly pre-existent spaces based on these practices. Finally, they combine these two dimensions with the design of a "polity" (3), understood as the formal constitution of societies.  The project assumes that the state is visible through a line within an institutional network, as soon as it is staged to relate it to its society. In the spatial claim to exclusivity, however, it already becomes clear: every polity also confronts those for whom it is supposed to stand. The objective is both to form a body politic capable of social action and to withdraw from legitimate discussion parts of what is constructed as so valuable that it requires territorialization.

With this combination of spatial reference, identity and polity dimension, we want to find out how, against the background of the destabilization of the Iraqi nation-state, designs for competing political orders are constructed as part of various efforts to gain legitimacy. 

Author: Dr. Christian Thuselt