Postage stamp iconography in post-Saddam Iraq: sect-specific symbols or nationalist imagery?

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Among scholars seeking a framework for analysing post-2003 intercommunal strife in Iraq, a sectarian master narrative gained dominance. It portrayed Iraq as an artificial creation of imperial powers, lacking a national identity. Scholarly challenge, however, has been gaining momentum. The study of postage stamp iconography presents a novel venue with which to contribute to this debate. Indeed, researchers of nations and nationalism emphasis the role stamps play in the visual construction and reproduction of national narratives and identities. The postage stamp imagery surveyed in post-Saddam Iraq (2003–2011) is incompatible with the sectarian narrative. Rather, it reflects symbols that are consistent with territorial-patriotic nationalism. Some evidence supports the notion that those in power used stamp iconography as a means of nationalist indoctrination; other evidence suggests that the government sought to enhance its legitimacy by embracing popular values. Either or both motivations lend credence to nationalism having considerable purchase in post-Saddam Iraq.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)958-976
Number of pages19
JournalNations and Nationalism
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The author(s) 2018. Nations and Nationalism © ASEN/John Wiley & Sons Ltd 2018


  • Arab
  • Ethnic Conflict
  • Iraq
  • national iconography
  • nationhood / national Identity
  • postage stamps


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