State-society relations and inter-communal dynamics in conflict: non-Muslim minorities in post-IS Iraq

Benjamin Isakhan, William Gourlay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This article examines state-society relations and inter-communal dynamics in conflict, focusing on the case study of non-Muslim minorities in Iraq. It draws on interview data to analyse the lived experiences of Iraq's Yazidis and Christians before, during and after Islamic State (IS) rule. It finds that the attacks by the IS on Iraq's Yazidi and Christian communities not only caused considerable suffering but also led to a renewed crisis of faith in the Iraqi state and a further breakdown in relations with other groups, especially Sunni Arabs. However, Iraq's Yazidis and Christian have also demonstrated remarkable resilience in terms of returning to their ancient homelands and rebuilding their fractured communities. Together, these findings raise further questions about the legitimacy of the Iraqi state in the eyes of its non-Muslim minorities and the prospects of a peaceful multicultural future for Iraq.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1459-1473
Number of pages15
JournalNations and Nationalism
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Christians
  • inter-communal relations
  • Iraq
  • state-society relations
  • Yazidis

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