Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action IF PS-IRAQ


“Performing a State: State-Building in Iraq (2003-2006)” is a postdoctoral research project that is conducted by Dr. Nida Alahmad and supervised by Prof. Christopher Parker (Ghent University). It lasts from April 2016 to March 2020. This project examines how scholars from history, political science, political economy, anthropology and social theory have understood Iraq prior to and after the invasion, and how they engaged in the making and the transfer of ideas about the state.

PS-IRAQ Nida Alahmad

Through an examination of the US state-building project in Iraq, the project asks how is the state (as an object of intervention) conceived, identified, quantified and acted upon in the production of knowledge about intervention and during the intervention itself? How does the act of intervention and the knowledge that informs it become part of the reality such intervention seeks to amend? In answering these questions the project will contribute to a deeper theoretical understanding of the political agency of the “state” and the nature of its relation with the knowledge and expertise that are produced about it and that aim to mould it. Data-collection relies on archival, library-based research, and interviews.  The project generates conceptual and empirical insights relevant to European external action in Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Countries, especially crisis response and state-building. European excellence and innovation is promoted by developing a reflexive understanding of the relationship between social science knowledge and state-building practice and policy. Lessons from the US experience enhance the mutual understanding of US policy formation and social scientific knowledge formation processes. This will enhance potential for European international cooperation on state-building.


These are the objectives of PS-IRAQ:

  • Study the relationship between knowledge production and political engineering in state and nation-building of occupied Iraq (2003-6)
  • Analyze how scientific knowledge of the state acted as a constituent element of political agency.
  • Develop detailed analysis of two sites of state-building in Iraq (2003-6). The cases are the occupation’s and US efforts in: restoring electrical supply and rebuilding the national electrical grid; and the introduction of new Iraqi representative bodies

    Role of Ghent University

    The project is hosted by Ghent University’s Department of Conflict and Development, and is supervised by Ghent University’s professor Christopher Parker. 


    Prof. Christopher Parker
    Department of Conflict and Development
    Phone number: +32(0)9 264 69 55; +32(0)9 264 69 97