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Sectarianism in Iraq: Antagonistic Visions of Unity Paperback – 31 Mar 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd (31 Mar. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849041288
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849041287
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.1 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 508,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'Haddad should be applauded not only for opening the door on further research on the subject but also for killing off the taboo hanging over sectarianism. Particularly with Syria in mind, shining the light on the relationship between sectarianism and nationalism is a key factor in mitigating and managing potential conflict, something that denying its relevance fails to do.' --International Affairs

'Sectarianism in Iraq provides a valuable insight into the complex interactions of social, religious, political, and ideational dynamics that are all too often referred to as being solely responsible for the devastating decline into near-civil war in Iraq in 2006-7. Haddad presents a nuanced, balanced, at times provocative account of why Iraqis of different sectarian colour committed the most atrocious acts against each other, while both maintained a near-identical narrative of their nationalist view. Sectarianism in Iraq is a powerful and insightful analysis of one of the most catastrophic events in modern Iraqi history.' --Gareth Stansfield, Professor of Middle East Politics, Director of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter

'Lucid and intriguing, Fanar Haddad's book crosses the minefield of sectarianism in Iraq with great success. By focusing on sectarian relations, rather than Shiis and Sunnis alone and by analyzing various levels of culture, Haddad ably circumvents the stringencies of the dominant version of Iraqi nationalism and its discourse that silences any attempt to touch the sectarian issue. This vanguard study paves the way for further interpretations of this sensitive subject.' --Dr Ronen Zeidel, Director of Research, Center for Iraq Studies, University of Haifa, Israel

About the Author

Fanar Haddad is a London based analyst of Middle Eastern and Iraqi affairs. He previously lectured at the University of Exeter and has worked extensively on Iraq and the wider region, most recently as an analyst at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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Format: Paperback
Sectarianism in Iraq is a timely examination of a under-researched and controversial topic that continues to play a central role in shaping the future of the country.

The book's stated aim is to provide the first concerted attempt to analyse the nature of sectarian relations and identities in Iraq. It focuses on how sectarian identities are negotiated on a societal level and addresses the vacuum in study on a topic that Haddad describes as being viewed as an odious "taboo" or reduced to oversimplified notions such as all Shi'a were against Saddam and all Sunnis were for him. Paradoxically avoiding debate on the topic has allowed it to become far more dangerous, as Saleem Muttar argues an "overemphasising a unifying Iraqi identity at the expense of understanding sectarian differences has had a detrimental effect on social cohesion".

How a society can transition from cohesion to civil war and back to a nominal understanding is the central narrative of the work. The book makes for particularly interesting reading while the situation in Syria continues to unravel along not such dissimilar lines. Haddad's point about totalitarian regimes not allowing for "counter-narratives or sub-national solidarities to be aired in public" is universal. Both in Iraq and Syria any questioning of the central national narrative is described as a form of conspiracy or foreign plot. There is also the notion that Assad and Saddam's `secular' authoritarianism is a buffer against a religious takeover of the state, although Esposito and Voll make the cogent point that "the most effective opposition to authoritarian regimes is expressed through a reaffirmation of the Islamic identity and heritage".
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