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Managing Intra-State Territorial Contestation: Iraq’s Disputed Territories in Comparative Perspective

Call for Papers

Iraq’s Disputed Territories remain a source of contestation and instability. Located in the north of Iraq, this broad swathe of territory lying to the south of the Kurdistan Region, and including within it parts of the provinces of Nineveh, Erbil, Salahadin, Kirkuk, and Diyala, the Disputed Territories remain a focus of contestation between the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government following the Kurdistan Region referendum of 2017 and the subsequent military response of the Government of Iraq. Furthermore, while the immediate threat of Islamic State actions has diminished, conditions in the Disputed Territories continue to create opportunities for the resurrection of militancy and insurgency, associated with the Sunni community, against the Government of Iraq and its allies.

Event details


Theme 1: Conflict causation

We are particularly interested in papers examining the role of identity-based factors, natural resources and regional and global factors in causing intra-state territorial disputes, as well as on continuity and change in the nature of these causes over time. Papers could focus on Iraq as a single case study or be comparative in approach, ideally including Iraq as one of the cases selected. In addition, we are also open to large-n studies on the causes of intra-state territorial disputes.

Theme 2: Conflict management in Iraq to date

We are keen to have papers in this theme explore key challenges around hydrocarbons, federalism, and the accommodation of Sunnis, Kurds, and other minorities and how these challenges affect the internally disputed boundaries. With a focus on Iraq, we expect papers to analyse the nature and design of internally and externally driven conflict management processes; to examine past proposals for Iraq’s post-2003 institutions, such as the 2005 Constitution and the 2009 UNAMI process; and to offer insights in to the causes of their failure or success, including the 2006-8 civil war and the rise of ISIS in 2014.

Theme 3: Conflict settlement in comparative perspective and future prospects for Iraq

Looking ahead to the future of a post-ISIS, post-election, and post-referendum Iraq, we want to investigate what lessons might be learned from other cases and applied to Iraq in order to increase the prospects of a sustainable settlement of Iraq’s internal territorial disputes. Papers in this theme could explore what the cases and issues are that are comparable to Iraq; what lessons, from both success and failure, can be learned; and how these lessons can be applied to Iraq.

Managing the situation in the Disputed Territories and its multi-faceted pre-conflict, conflict, and post-conflict dynamics is therefore of critical importance for Iraq’s stability and also impacts upon wider regional political interests. 

Against this background, we are looking for paper proposals on three interrelated themes: the causes of intra-state territorial disputes; the conflict management process in Iraq to date; and comparative perspectives on, and future prospects for, the settlement of issues around Iraq’s internally disputed boundaries. (See Abstract for more details.)

Paper proposals of no more than 500 words should be submitted electronically to Dr. Argyro Kartsonaki (, together with contact details and institutional affiliation/s of their author/s. Please also indicate whether you will require an official invitation letter for UK visa purposes.

Deadline for submission: 14 January 2019.

The conference has been made possible by funds provided by the UK Economic and Social Research Council as part of the grant Managing Intra-State Territorial Contestation, awarded to Professor Gareth Stansfield (Exeter) and Professor Stefan Wolff (Birmingham). The conference is the final event to be held of the three-year research programme.

Travel and accommodation costs will be provided for accepted papers.

We plan to publish selected papers from the conference in an edited volume with a leading academic publisher and/or as a special issue of an appropriate disciplinary journal.