Territorial Autonomy and Ethnic Protests in Northern Iraq


Fri, 03/31/2023 - 3:00pm

Part of the Spring 2023 Middle Eastern and North African Studies Colloquium Series 

Nahrain Bet Younadam, Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow 


How do autonomy arrangements shape protest outcomes for regional ethnic minority groups? My case study analysis on ethnic protests by Assyrians in Northern Iraq shows autonomy arrangements may have increased grievances by Assyrians within the Northern Iraq region. My evidence is rooted in fieldwork interviews with local elites and civilians in Northern Iraq, online sources including newspapers, magazines, policy reports, archival material, and scholarly research. Using desk method research, I also collect data on instances of protests by Assyrians in Iraq between 2005-2018. The protest data reveal, in addition to protesting the central government of Iraq, Assyrians also protest the Kurdish Regional Government. Specifically, in disputed territories such as Nineveh, Assyrians directed protests against the regional government slightly more than the central Iraqi state. The case study analysis provides support for theory on how territorial autonomy arrangements, while they may advance access to power for regional majority groups, may simultaneously increase grievances and protest outcomes for ethnic minorities within them.


Dr. Nahrain Bet Younadam is the Inaugural Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Arizona in the School of Government and Public Policy. In June 2022, she earned her Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Davis. She specializes in international relations and comparative politics. Her work explores issues of human rights including local ethnic minority protests and self-determination movements. Her book project examines how regional autonomy arrangements shape grievances by regional ethnic minority groups and motivate new claims for self-determination. Her work has been funded by the funded by the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Russell J. Dorothy S. Bilinski Educational Foundation. 

This event will be held in person in Marshall 490.