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Governing Iraqi Kurdistan: Self-Rule, Political Order and the International

Küçükkeleş-Koru, Müjge (2023) Governing Iraqi Kurdistan: Self-Rule, Political Order and the International. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.100834) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:100834)

Language: English

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Iraqi Kurdistan emerged as a "free" entity in a humanitarian intervention in 1991. Since then, it has been the subject of growing international involvement. The region gained its legal status in 2005 as an autonomous territorial entity in the aftermath of another US-led military intervention. Rather than incorporating the region into the institutional apparatus of a federal Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan's newly-attained legality further inserted it into global networks of governance, capital flows, ideas, advocacy and knowledge. It quickly became a space where international organisations, NGOs, and consultants eagerly promoted international frameworks of state-building, good governance, free markets, and development.

This thesis explores the operation of these international actors, programs and discourses, and their political, social and economic effects in Iraqi Kurdistan. It goes beyond existing juridical epistemologies and their primary concern with the state and sovereignty, and offers a proximate account of international processes in the Kurdistan region. The research relies on Foucauldian notions of governmentality and biopolitics, and locates the region within the prevailing (neo)liberal political rationalities and dispersed power relations of global politics in the post-cold war.

This thesis demonstrates how dispersed and diffused regimes of power/knowledge mobilised by a multiplicity of international, local and regional actors have constituted and reconstituted Iraqi Kurdistan's self-rule. It substantiates this argument by linking Iraqi Kurdistan's social and political development to broader changes in global politics. It also analyses the ways in which international discourses and practices of humanitarian governance, free markets, good governance, and development have shaped political, social and economic order in the region. It argues that these practices have constructed the KRI's social and political order, not on political institutions of sovereignty, but as an economic unit. The economic conceptualisation of the region has had significant implications for Kurdish nationalism, and the meaning of independence, self-determination and national liberation. In this framing, self-determination is no longer a political and legal category associated with independent statehood, rather it is a governmental category denoting a set of practices, policies and norms that seek to promote self-reliance and self-development among the Kurds.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Voller, Yaniv
Thesis advisor: Loizides, Neophytos
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.100834
Uncontrolled keywords: Iraqi Kurdistan, neoliberalism, international governmentality, biopolitics, Foucault, state, sovereignty, self-determination, humanitarianism, development, good governance, free markets, nationalism, dissent
Subjects: J Political Science
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Funders: University of Kent (
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2023 08:10 UTC
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2023 11:01 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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Küçükkeleş-Koru, Müjge.

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