Ideological Roots of Politics
A Kurdish woman taking off the burqa imposed by the Islamic State after escaping into the YPG-controlled area - pic by Shervan Derwish/Jack Shahine
and political figures collected during fieldwork in Iraq, the United States and Germany from 2016 to 2019, as well as a rich collection of original ideological documents. My key argument is that actors’ ideological frameworks are the critical explanatory factor. More specifically, ideologies exert their effects by informing which relations, institutions, and practices actors pursue and by mediating the impact of other dimensions of social life.
The project has been funded by Smith Richardson Foundation ISS Fellowship, DAAD Research Grant, and Yale MacMillan Center International Dissertation Fellowship. Drawing upon the dissertation data, I have published a peer-reviewed article in Globalizations and a book chapter in Kurdish Autonomy and U.S. Foreign Policy. Another sole-authored article has recently received Revise and Resubmit.
My dissertation examines three state-building projects emerging out of the connected political crises in Syria and Iraq in the aftermath of the 2003 U.S. invasion and 2011 uprisings: Kurdistan-Syria, Kurdistan-Iraq, and the Islamic State. Despite rising to significance within the same time and space, these political formations pursue widely different projects: direct democracy, feminism, and anti-capitalist cooperatives in Kurdistan-Syria; representative democracy, patriarchal values, and neoliberal capitalism in Kurdistan-Iraq, and a fundamentalist religious and fascist system in the Islamic State. Starting from this simultaneous existence, I ask: why have such different formations emerged out of the same political crucible? To answer this question, I draw upon 40 in-depth interviews with civilians
Fate of Ideological Orientations
Building upon my dissertation research, my next project shifts the focus from the effects of ideologies to their formation and rise to prominence. Specifically, I ask: why do certain political orientations - from far left to far right, reformist to revolutionary, etc. - become dominant in a given time and space? This fundamental question that was once studied by scholars such as Barrington Moore, Jeffrey Paige, and Neil Smelser has been largely abandoned in recent decades. The project will incorporate a mixed-method approach and compare a broad range of international cases by focusing on class structures, racial structures, patriarchal structures, geopolitics, and world-historical ideological currents.
White nationalists and left-wing protesters clash in Charlottesville, Va - pic by Joshua Roberts/Reuters