Iraqnophobia: A biomedical history of sate-rearing and shock doctrine in Iraq

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The history of Western foreign policy in the Middle East has long assimilated Arab culture to sickness. Specifically, the biological episteme of “contamination” has shaped American foreign policy in the Gulf for decades. In so doing, the US Government continually borrowed references from the natural sciences to frame its foreign policy, leading some commentators to claim that biology supplanted philosophy and religion as the primary political category. The article analyses the semantics of Iraqnophobic metaphors, from the British experience of “nursing” Arabs at the close of the First World War to the recent “shock doctrine” of American therapists. First, the paper will concentrate its attention on the metaphors of disinfection and surgical resection. Second, it will address the metaphors of lustration, State-rearing and scientific recovery. Finally, it will explore Iraqis’ rebellion against their self-appointed tutors and doctors. Elaborating on the belligerents’ nursing and biomedical metaphors, the following pages address the life cycle of foreign “legal transplantation”, “antibody” resistance and “immunosuppressant” counterinsurgency in Iraq.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-114
JournalInternational Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue internationale de Sémiotique juridique
Early online date24 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • biology
  • metaphor
  • legal transplants
  • Iraq


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