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Kurdistan on the Global Stage

Kinship, Land, and Community in Iraq

by Diane King

Publication Year: 2013

Anthropologist Diane E. King has written about everyday life in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, which covers much of the area long known as Iraqi Kurdistan. Following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’thist Iraqi government by the United States and its allies in 2003, Kurdistan became a recognized part of the federal Iraqi system. The Region is now integrated through technology, media, and migration to the rest of the world.Focusing on household life in Kurdistan’s towns and villages, King explores the ways that residents connect socially, particularly through patron-client relationships and as people belonging to gendered categories. She emphasizes that patrilineages (male ancestral lines) seem well adapted to the Middle Eastern modern stage and viceversa. The idea of patrilineal descent influences the meaning of refuge-seeking and migration as well as how identity and place are understood, how women and men interact, and how “politicking” is conducted.In the new Kurdistan, old values may be maintained, reformulated, or questioned. King offers a sensitive interpretation of the challenges resulting from the intersection of tradition with modernity. Honor killings still occur when males believe their female relatives have dishonored their families, and female genital cutting endures. Yet, this is a region where modern technology has spread and seemingly everyone has a mobile phone. Households may have a startling combination of illiterate older women and educated young women. New ideas about citizenship coexist with older forms of patronage.King is one of the very few scholars who conducted research in Iraq under extremely difficult conditions during the Saddam Hussein regime. How she was able to work in the midst of danger and in the wake of genocide is woven throughout the stories she tells. Kurdistan on the Global Stage serves as a lesson in field research as well as a valuable ethnography.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

Acknowledgements

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pp. xi-xii

Note on the Transliteration, Pronunciation, and Proper Nouns

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pp. xiii-xvi

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1. Kurdistan Glocal

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pp. 1-40

In 1991, hundreds of thousands of people fled up the soggy, freezing mountainsides of Kurdistan, the Kurdish homeland that spans Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran, to escape attacks by the Iraqi military. The attacks were ordered by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, one of the world’s most brutal dictators, in response to an uprising by three main categories of Kurdish...

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2. Fieldwork in a Danger Zone

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pp. 41-65

In 1991, the Cable News Network (CNN) and other television channels broadcast the plight of the Kurds to the world. Thousands of people fled Saddam Hussein’s military, up muddy, inhospitable slopes, afraid they would be attacked as they had been in previous years, when hundreds of thousands died. Millions of people around the world, including me,...

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3. A Man on the Land: Lineages, Identity, and Place

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pp. 66-101

Kurdistan’s valleys and peaks, villages and cities comprise a place imbued with meaning, meaning that for many people is framed in terms of generations of male ancestors traced backward and forward in time using the logic of patriliny. In patriliny, biological relationships through males are regarded as having special significance over other kin relationships. Patriliny...

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4. Gendered Challenges: Women Navigating Patriliny

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pp. 102-137

Historic shifts have taken place in the gender system of Iraqi Kurdistan. While the Iraqi government during much of the twentieth century promoted girls’ education and encouraged women to come into the public sphere (Al-Ali 2007), those efforts had little impact on Iraqi Kurdistan. Since 1991, however, education rates for both males and females in...

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5. Politicking

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pp. 138-171

The Kurdistan Region is abuzz with politicking, a form of, and impetus for, much of the social connecting that takes place there. By “politicking,” I mean political activity in the form of conversations and actions. Politicking is by definition active and always in process. Politicking comprises the political stuff of state, local, tribal, and lineage governance, aspirations to...

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6. Refuge Seeking, Patriliny, and the Global

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pp. 172-203

I am a guest for lunch at the home of a family living in the Barushki neighborhood of Dohuk. The conversation turns to the Anfal campaign, in which the Iraqi government led by Saddam Hussein attacked people in Kurdish villages from the air, dropping chemical weapons on them. Suzan, a relative of the family who is also a lunch guest, tells her personal story of...

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7. Kurdistan in the World

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pp. 204-228

The Kurdistan Region of Iraq is now a participant in the world’s system of states, even though it is, technically, only a “region” within a federated state. It conducts its own foreign policy business without going through Baghdad. Iraqi Kurdistan has long been called “autonomous” within Iraq, but it in many ways now exercises autonomy in the world, too....

Notes

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pp. 229-236

Glossary and Acronyms

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pp. 237-238

References

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pp. 239-254

Index

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pp. 255-268

About the Author

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pp. 269-270


E-ISBN-13: 9780813563541
E-ISBN-10: 0813563542
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813563534
Print-ISBN-10: 0813563534

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 19 photographs, 2 figures, 4 maps
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Kurdistān (Iraq) -- Politics and government.
  • Kurdistān (Iraq) -- Social conditions.
  • Kurds -- Iraq -- Politics and government.
  • Kurds -- Ethnic identity.
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