Kerem Ussakli

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Stanford U.

Grant number

Gr. 9480

Approve Date

April 25, 2017

Project Title

Ussakli, Kerem Can, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Law's Encounters: Kafala Relationships in Iraqi Kurdistan,' supervised by Dr. Thomas B. Hansen

Preliminary abstract: In the last decade, over 3 million Iraqi Arabs, fleeing political violence, have sought out a Kurdish sponsor to settle in the autonomous northern region of Iraqi Kurdistan. While this system of sponsorship — kafala — has a long history in the political life of the Middle East, it wasn’t a mediating term among Iraqi Arabs and Kurds before the American invasion of 2003. Preliminary research suggests that kafalas are always contentious forms of contract, negotiated by security forces, citizens and humanitarian workers alike. Through ethnographic research with internally displaced Arabs, their Kurdish sponsors, office-holders and humanitarian workers, this project seeks to explain how local, national and international categories of law interact with each other through kafala. It asks: How can we understand the sources of trust and authority after the collapse of the Ba’athist state in Iraq? How is Iraqi Kurdish sovereignty produced through the act of offering sponsorship? In answering these questions, this project engages extensively with anthropological studies on encounter, law and sovereignty.