Imagining the Iraqi National Identity Before and After the US Invasion of 2003 : Perception of the Sunni-Arab ethnicity

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Statsvetenskap

Abstract: This masters thesis analyses how Iraqi national identity is constructed before and after 2003. It explores what relation the national identity has to Sunni-Arab ethnicity. The study is qualitative and uses social constructivism as a methodological outline. Qualitative interviews are done with six Iraqi-Arab-Sunnis living in Sweden. Diaspora is not an analytical scope. The theoretical framework consists of Benedict Anderson’s theory about nations and nationalism where imagined communities is a key concept. Furthermore, Thomas Hylland Eriksen’s theory about ethnicity and nationalism where social identification is a central concept. Drawn conclusions are that Iraqi nationalism, partly constructed by Sunni hegemony, is the main identification and what the community is imagined from. Sunni ethnicity is mostly rejected, and a Sunni community barely exists. Unlike previous research which argues that Sunnis have redefined themselves through Sunni ethnicity. Iraqi nationalism is constructed against the anomaly which is other nations Iran and the US. It is also constructed by idealizing and remembering the past from a nationalistic perspective. It is constructed as kinship, as equal and with pride. However, the Sunni hegemony implies that Iraqi nationalism is not equal but privileges Sunni ethnicity. Sunni ethnicity is barely visible, but mostly post 2003 through victimhood. Sunni ethnicity was under communicated before 2003 but is over communicated after 2003, especially amongst national institutions. An exclusion of Sunni ethnicity occurs amongst national institutions post 2003.

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