Lineages of the Islamic State: an international historical sociology of state (de-)formation in Iraq

Matin, Kamran (2018) Lineages of the Islamic State: an international historical sociology of state (de-)formation in Iraq. Journal of Historical Sociology, 31 (1). pp. 6-24. ISSN 0952-1909

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Existing accounts of the Islamic State (IS) tend to rely on orientalist and technicist assumptions and hence insufficiently sensitive to the historical, sociological, and international conditions of the possibility of IS. The present article provides an alternative account through a conjunctural analysis that is anchored in an international historical sociology of modern Iraq informed by Leon Trotsky's idea of ‘uneven and combined development’. It foregrounds the concatenation of Iraq's contradictory (post‐)colonial nation‐state formation with the neoliberal conjuncture of 1990‐2014. It shows that the former process involved the tension‐prone fusion of governing institutions of the modern state and the intermittent but steady reproduction, valorization, and politicization of supra‐national (religious‐sectarian) and sub‐national (ethno‐tribal) collective identities, which subverted the emergence of an Iraqi nation. The international sanctions regime of the 1990s transformed sectarian and tribal difference into communitarian tension by fatally undermining the integrative efficacy of the Ba’ath party's authoritarian welfare‐state. Concurrently, the neo‐liberal demolition of the post‐colonial authoritarian welfare states in the region gave rise to the Arab Spring revolutions. The Arab Spring however elicited a successful authoritarian counter‐revolution that eliminated secular‐nationalist forms of oppositional politics. This illiberal neoliberalisation of the region's political economy valorised the religionisation of the domestic effects of the 2003 US‐led destruction of the Iraqi state and its reconstruction on a majoritarian basis favouring the Shi’as and hence transforming sectarian tension into sectarian conflict culminating in IS. Thus, IS is, the paper demonstrates, the result of neither an internal cultural pathology nor sheerly external forces. Rather, it is the novel product of an utterly historical congealment of the intrinsically interactive and multilinear dynamics of socio‐political change.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Conjunctural Analysis, International Historical Sociology, International Relations, Iraq, IS, Islamic State, ISIS,, Nation-State, State-Formation, Uneven and Combined Development
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Research Centres and Groups: Centre for Advanced International Theory
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory. The state. Theories of the state > JC049 Islamic state
J Political Science > JC Political theory. The state. Theories of the state > JC311 Nationalism. Nation state
J Political Science > JZ International relations
L Education > LG Individual institutions (Asia. Africa. Oceania) > LG021 Asia > LG338 Iraq
Depositing User: Kamran Matin
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2018 14:01
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2020 15:39

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