How to Be or Not to Be an Iraqi Kurd? Processes of Identity Consolidation beyond National and Ethnic Rhetoric in the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan in Northern Iraq

  • Abstract:

    With ongoing power struggles in Iraq, apparently only the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) constantly managed to consolidate its collective identity both internally and externally over the last decade, throughout three key periods of time (2002-2007; 2007-2011; 2011-2015). This paper aims at presenting the ways both main actors (regional and federal government in Iraq) have nurtured various discourses on identity and on the different types of identities for political purposes and the enforcement of the collective’s own interests. While Iraq has failed in building an overarching national identity, the KRG managed to overcome the “classical pattern” of identity instrumentalization based on ethnical or separatist rhetoric. On the contrary, at least on declarative level, they strive at the consolidation of a collective identity beyond national, regional, ethnical, religious or social movement features. Even if a definitive result cannot be described yet, as it still is an unfolding process, it has been observed, that internationalization has played a decisive role in the KRG’s chosen self-defining path. Notable is also the fact that the KRG’s self-ascription often corresponds with external attributions, thus neutralizing conflict potentials.