The main premise of this paper emerges from a treatment of the identities dominant throughout the nineteenth century and at the turn of the twentieth. Specifically, and significantly, this paper asserts that the three formerly Ottoman provinces or vilayet which would compose present-day Iraq — Mosul, Basra and Baghdad — were in fact led and centrally administered from Baghdad. This reality emerges through records of local correspondence and private reports, with official bodies that contained the concept of “Iraq”; in place of a common tribal or clan structure, there were Iraqis who shared a “homeland” analogous to the previous tribal concept of a dirah. Alternative narratives–particularly those adopted by British commentators–emphasize the “artificial” nature of Iraq, but these are overly reliant on a Eurocentric model for the formation of the nation-state. Such Eurocentric approaches are overly restrictive and fail to take into account diverging and alternative patterns for the emergence of modern states. Additionally, the inability of the Iraqi and other models to meet European standards of national homogeneity and territorial contiguity have been used to explain and justify political violence within the boundaries of Iraq, precisely that which British and other narratives have sought to promote.
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