Pub Date2006
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Reading Iraq: Culture and Power in Conflict

Muhsin J. al-Musawi
I.B. Tauris

What exactly is Iraq? As a dramatic new era of Iraqi politics unfolds, Muhsin al-Musawi seeks to understand it by dissecting the country’s cultural anatomy. The first major work of its kind, Reading Iraq explores the profound connection between identity and power in Iraq’s history, and in so doing provides a context for understanding today’s complicated struggles. Drawing on a mixture of ‘high’ and popular forms of expression, al-Musawi identifies the prevalent tropes of Iraqi culture, such as symbols of redemptive suffering amongst the Shi’ites, or courage amongst the Bedouins. He examines these symbols in historical and political context, arguing that establishing legitimacy in Iraq is a question of being able to read and respond to a wide variety of cultural signals.