Culture, History & Ideology in the Formation of Ba'thist Iraq, 1968-89
St Antony’s/Macmillan Series
This book explores how, to complement severe repression and economic incentives, culture and the re-interpretation of history have been used by the Ba'th regime in its quest to impose its rule, back its foreign adventures and cement national unity among Iraq’s diverse ethnic and religious communities, and to strengthen the local Iraqi identity. The book describes how, to imbue its citizens with a sense of a common and unique past and a common and dazzling destiny, this regime has encouraged the Iraqi people to see themselves as the offspring and heirs of all the great peoples and civilizations of Mesopotamia, from Sumer to the Abbasid Golden Age. The book analyzes the way in which the regime’s historians set out to accomplish this task, and delineates the regime’s cultural policy, contrived to create a sense of five thousand years of historical continuity. This policy has ranged from organizing colourful festivals in ancient sites, through the incorporation of ancient Mesopotamian and other local-Iraqi themes in art, poetry and theatrical plays, to extravagant archeological reconstructions.
Amatzia Baram is Lecturer in the Department of the History of the Modem Middle East at Haifa University, Israel. He previously did research as a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center, the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, and as a Senior Associate Member at St Antony’s College, Oxford. He has published many articles in various academic magazines, studying the political, cultural and social history of Iraq under the rule of the Ba‘th party.