The politics of genocide recognition: Kurdish nation-building and commemoration in the post-Saddam Era

Bahar Baser, Mari Toivanen

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Abstract

This article explores the genocide recognition politics (GRP) with a specific focus on Saddam Hussein’s Anfal campaign (1988) against the Kurdish population in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). In the context of a pending referendum on independence in the KRI, this study investigates the evolution of GRP in relation to secession, nation-building and commemoration as well as the social, political and economic drivers in the process. In addition, the study zeroes in on the internationalization of genocide recognition claims via diaspora lobbying and the KRG’s bureaux of representation in Europe. The results are based on extensive fieldwork conducted with KRG representatives, diaspora entrepreneurs and other stakeholders between 2012 and 2016 in Europe and Iraqi Kurdistan. The KRG’s genocide recognition claims are not explicitly associated with secession, but instead are employed to legitimize local rule by referencing collective trauma and shared victimhood. In this way, Anfal – as the ‘chosen trauma’ – has become a component of (local) nation-building mechanisms. Nevertheless, recognition claims can become instrumentalized for succession so long as the political circumstances in the region become favourable to Kurdish independence. In the diaspora context, the GRP serve to establish a link to homeland through commemoration practices, but they also provide greater space for lobbying and transnational advocacy networking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)404-426
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Genocide Research
Volume19
Issue number3
Early online date25 Jun 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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genocide
state formation
Kurdistan
diaspora
politics
secession
Iraq
trauma
referendum
internationalization
Homelands
entrepreneur
networking
campaign
driver
stakeholder
economics

Keywords

  • Genocide recognition
  • diaspora
  • politics
  • Kurdish Regional Government
  • anfal

Cite this

The politics of genocide recognition : Kurdish nation-building and commemoration in the post-Saddam Era. / Baser, Bahar; Toivanen, Mari.

In: Journal of Genocide Research, Vol. 19, No. 3, 2017, p. 404-426.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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