Arran Robert Walshe

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New York U.

Grant number

Gr. 10037

Approve Date

August 26, 2020

Project Title

Walshe, Arran (New York U.) "Martyred Citizenship: The Administration of Sacrifice in Iraq, 2003–2017 "

ARRAN WALSHE, then a graduate student at New York University, New York, New York, was awarded a grant in August 2020 to aid research on “Martyred Citizenship: The Administration of Sacrifice in Iraq, 2003’2017,” supervised by Dr. Helga Tawil-Souri. This project investigates how Iraqis navigate a legal and bureaucratic political system that depends not only on discriminatory conceptions of citizenship or identity, but critically on restrictive concepts of what lives can be sacrificial. It details how the Iraqi Martyrdom Foundation, a public institution founded in 2006 and tasked with regulating and reforming the Iraqi state’s legal and bureaucratic definition of martyrdom, came to occupy a hegemonic bureaucratic role in managing the state’s reparations and compensation practices. In its work the Foundation pulls on a conjunction of human rights law, human resource norms, and conceptions of both heroic sacrifice and victimhood, to apportion specific material, and moral value on its beneficiaries. Through an ethnography of the Foundation, its law, bureaucrats, and beneficiaries, it traces how Iraqis contest, negotiate, and successfully reorder the Foundation’s definition of martyrdom through the idiom of karam, or generosity, reframing the dichotomy of heroism and victim through lived ethics of everyday kindness. It examines how this process of contestation over the ethical and material values of sacrifice shape individual responses to endemic lived and structural violence that for many Iraqis has resulted in the loss of any acceptable political, social, or economic future.