Forthcoming Event

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

Date:    26-27 February 2019
Venue:  Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), Whitehall, London SW1A 2ET

Convenors:   Professor Gareth Stansfield (University of Exeter)
                    Professor Stefan Wolff (University of Birmingham)
                    Argyro Kartsonaki (University of Birmingham)

Call for Papers: Deadline 14th January 2019

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. 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.

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.

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. 

Previous Photographic and Art Exhibitions

  • The exhibition 'Return to Kurdistan' showed Iraqi Kurdistan and Northern Iraq in contemporary photographs by Richard Wilding, alongside historical photographs taken in the 1940s by Anthony Kersting was presented alongside the June 2017 conference.
  • Seasons of Mud May-June 2014, exhibition of paintings by Iraqi artist Yousif Naser.
  • The Centre organised a conference by Chris Kutschera to coincide with the second international conference on Kurdish Studies. The exhibition, 'A photographic journey through Kurdish history', presented key events and personalities of Kurdish history through the eye of this photographer who has covered Kurdistan with her husband, a journalist, for 40 years. It was a very emotional moment to hear the reporters remembering their first trip to Kurdistan and their many stories. 

Previous Visiting Speakers and Events

"Women's Voices in Kurdish Poetry" by Exeter Kurdish Translation Initiative

Date:     16 November 2018
University of Exeter, Streatham Campus, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, Lecture Theatres 1 and 2  
Time:     5.30-7.00 pm

This event is a rare opportunity for the Anglophone audience to discover Kurdish poetry in translation. Members of the Exeter Kurdish Translation Initiative will read their original translations of 20th and 21st century Kurdish poetesses and poets and discuss the place of women's issues and the emergence of women's voices in this extremely rich yet little known poetry. Works read will include poems by Hemin Mukriyanî, Abdulla Goran, Trîfa Doskî, and Tîroj. 

The Exeter Kurdish Translation Initiative was launched in May 2018 following a translation workshop supported by the British Institute for the Study of Iraq and the Centre for Kurdish Studies. It gathers St Andrew's and Exeter scholars in Kurdish and Arabic Literatures, Creative Writing, and Translation Studies.  For enquires email:  This is free public event all welcome.  Registration not needed.  For further information on the literary festival please go here.


Kurdish Cultural Production in Iran: Past, Present, held on the 17th September 2018 see here for the workshop programme.

This was a jointly funded event, with thanks to the Iran Heritage Foundation and the Centre for Kurdish Studies.  While certain aspects of Kurdish culture, such as its music, are well appreciated and celebrated in Iran, other vibrant activities in literature, the visual arts and cinema are much less well known. We hope to open avenues of research in vital areas hardly explored hitherto. The workshop was made possible by a grant awarded to Dr Farangis Ghaderi by Iran Heritage Foundation and the support of Centre for Kurdish Studies. As well as providing an opportunity for analytic and theoretical discussion, the workshop sought to showcase contemporary Kurdish art through music performance by prominent Iranian Kurdish musician Arash Moradi and a poetry reading session.


  • Jan 2017 Dr Cengiz Gunes, 'Kurdish Resurgence in the Middle East and its Regional Impact
  • Jan 2017 Mr Kawa Hassan, 'Neither Reform, Nor Revolution: Kurdistan's Crippling Paralysis'
  • Nov 2015 Prof Sami Zubaida 'Imagining National Cuisine: Middle Eastern Food and Identity'
  • June 2014 Middle Eastern Literatures: Local and Global Contexts. A Doctoral Workshop 'Middle Eastern Literatures: local and global contexts' was organised by the Centre for Kurdish Studies (University of Exeter), in collaboration with the Faculty of Oriental Studies (University of Oxford) on Saturday 7th - Sunday 8th June at the University of Exeter.
  • May 2014 Social Movements, Mobilization, and Political Protest in Non-democratic Contexts: An Interdisciplinary Perspective doctoral workshop was held on 20th May 2014 at the University of Exeter by the Centre for Kurdish Studies in partnership with the Graduate Institute (Geneva) and the centre for Centre d’Études et de Recherches Internationales et Communautaires (CERIC).
  • May 2014 'This was Hasankeyf' - Community Screening and UK Premiere 'The threat of a Dam. The allure of Progress. The poetics of Citizenship. A visual journey of enchantment, death and rurality along the Tigris River, through the soul of an ancient town, entangled between its legacy and doom.' The screening took place at Exeter Phoenix and was followed by a panel discussion and Q/A with director T. Vitali and researcher F. Marilungo, with the participation of Christine Allison, Professor of Kurdish Studies at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter and W. Higbee, Deputy Director of the Graduate School and Sen. Lect. in Film studies, University of Exeter.For further information please see the poster: This was Hasankeyf - Poster for Screening 29th May 2014
  • March 2014, Prof Leyla Neyzi 'Young People Speak Out: The Contribution of Oral History to Facing the Past, Reconciliation and Democratization in Turkey carried out in 2011-2013'
  • March 2014 Dr. M. Nesim:  'Doru Schools of Islamic Philosophy in Melâyê Jizîrî's Dîwâ.'
  • Photographic Exhibition 'Current Pastoral practices of Kurdish shepherds in Rania area, Governorate of Sulaymaniya, Kurdistan Iraq.' By ‘Archaeological Survey of the Soulaimaniah Governorate (ASSG), Michael Thevenin and IFPO’. Download poster.
  • April 2013 Workshop-Bringing together Middle Eastern Literatures Doctoral Workshop Organised by the Centre for Kurdish Studies, University of Exeter and the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford. This workshop brought together doctoral students of Middle Eastern literatures in order to discuss ongoing research in the field(s). By bringing together students of different literatures connected to the Middle East, in different languages, the workshop developed a platform for scholarly exchange. It also identified bridges between the studies of the diverse Middle Eastern literatures, and to reflect on the circulations and influences between and within these literatures, and on their commonalities and specificities - be they in their histories and evolutions, their forms and themes, but also their uses and studies. Finally it allowed discussion of the different methodological, theoretical or conceptual elements relevant to the study of these literatures. Thus, the workshop built on a comparative approach to Middle Eastern literatures. It focussed on modern and contemporary literatures. The workshop was an opportunity for doctoral students to present and discuss their research with peers and members of staff from the University of Exeter and the University of Oxford.
  • 21 and 22 March 2013 There was a visit from Dr Zeynep Gambetti on 21 and 22 March 2013. A seminar was organised around several readings the event also included a Master classes around MA and PhD students’ own work. Zeynep Gambetti is associate professor of political theory at Bogazici University, Istanbul. 
  • 08 March 2013 Seminar with Professor Hamit Bozarslan. A seminar took place place for CKS/IAIS MA and PhD students run by Professor Hamit Bozarslan. Professor Hamit Bozarslan is a historian and political scientist. He is professor at the Ecoles des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. He is the author of several books including The Kurdish Question: States and Minorities in the Middle East (French), Violence in the Middle-East (English) as well as of numerous articles dealing with Kurdish identity, society, and politics as well as with Turkish history. The seminar was an open session in which students engaged with Professor Bozarslan on his and their own work. You can  look at the interview (by M. Casierand O. Grojean) :  'Between integration, autonomization and radicalization. Hamit Bozarslan on the Kurdish Movement and the Turkish Left,' European Journal of Turkish Studies, 14 | 2012, URL :
  • March 2013 Dr Choman Hardi 'Women's situation and the woman's movement in Kurdistan - Iraq'
  • Jan 2013 Dr Tim Jacoby, 'Peace in Turkey'
  • Nov 2012 Dr Amir Hassanpour 'Sorani is a Dialiect with an Army and a Parliament: Political and Ideological Conflicts over the Officialization of the Kurdish Language in Iraq' a video is available here
  • March 2012 Dr Joost Jongerden, 'The reconstruction of the countryside in the Kurdistan region in Turkey'
  • January 2012 The portrait of a nation in poetry and music. The Centre organised a workshop entitled 'The portrait of a nation in poetry and music.' Presentations were given by Dr. Michiel Leezenberg (University of Amsterdam), Malmisanij (Stockholm), Farangis Ghaderi (University of Exeter) the workshop was followed by a concert by Tara Jaff, a respected Kurdish harp player, based in London.
  • In October 2011 The Kurds of Syria. The Centre for Kurdish Studies organised a panel on 'The Kurds of Syria' in order to discuss the political transformation in Syria. The Centre hosted some of the most important experts in the field: Dr Jordi Tejel (Graduate institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva), Dr Robert Lowe (London School of Economics) and Dr Harriet Allsopp (London).
  • May and January 2011 Zazaki language and culture. Two in-house workshops were organised by some of our doctoral students on Zazaki language and culture. During the workshop we were able to familiarise ourselves with zazaki language through exercises, literature, music and film.
  • June 2010 CKS organised a workshop on ‘Oral Scriptures’ featuring Philip Kreyenbroek (Goettingen), Yiannis Kanakis (Exeter) and Alexandra Argenti (UCL). This workshop examined issues of orality, religion and affect as articulated in spoken Kurdish. Presentations were given on the sacred texts of the Yezidis, which are oral, the role of music as bearer of affect and religious meaning among the Yaresan, and on the articulation of trauma narratives and its relationship to gender.
  • Feb 2010 Arash Moradi (London) 'Yaresan Music and Identity'
  • May 2008 Professor Philip Kreyenbroek (University of Goettingen) 'Was there an ancient Kurdish religion?'
  • May 2008 Professor Gilles Dorronsoro (University of Paris 1-Sorbonne) 'Framing conflicts in Turkish Kurdistan: State discourse and electoral competition'
  • May 2008 Professor Nicole Watts (San Francisco State University) 'The Missing Moderate: Legitimacy Resources and Pro-Kurdish Parties in Turkey'
  • April 2008, Dr. Jordi Tejel, 'Political Mobilizations in Iraqi Kurdistan during the British Mandate: Between Tradition and Modernity'