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 "

This project investigates how Iraqis navigate a sectarian 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, abrogated the status of all pre-2003 martyrs and declared only those civilians killed by the Ba’ath the state’s sole martyrs. This resulted in a sectarian, retroactive, and ultimately reductive and discriminatory policy of martyr recognition. Incorporating legal rulings, cultural production, biographies, and interviews, this work traces how Iraqis contest, negotiate, and successfully reorder the Foundation’s definition of martyrdom through popular mobilization and cultural production. It asks, first, how the increased bureaucratization of martyrdom by the state and civil society groups augments the social, economic, and political conditions under which a sacrificed life is given value. Second, it examines how this process of contestation over the ethical and material values of sacrifice shape individual responses to a violence that for many Iraqis has resulted in a loss of any acceptable political, social, or economic future.