Archives, conflict and power: Iraqi archives displaced to the United States during the Gulf Wars

Whiting, Rebecca Abby (2021) Archives, conflict and power: Iraqi archives displaced to the United States during the Gulf Wars. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.


This thesis examines the histories of three archives that were displaced from Iraq to the United States between 1992 and 2005, exploring the relationship between archives and power during conflict. The archives of the Baʿth regime in Iraq were a mainstay of its power over the Iraqi population during its period of rule from 1968-2003. During both domestic and international conflict, when the Baʿth Party’s power slipped, its archives were often the first things seized by its opponents. This thesis addresses the question of what becomes of archives and the power they represent when a regime collapses and foreign forces intervene in the fate of its documentary patrimony. Whenever a regime falls, new forces emerge and compete for power. These emergent forces seek to gain control of the former regime’s archives and deploy them within the post-conflict sociopolitical milieu; the archives’ values and uses are transformed in accordance with the needs of the dominant political actors. Examining three case studies, this thesis identifies archives as a site of political struggle through which to explore the moments of armed conflict and foreign military occupation in Iraqi history which ultimately led to archives formerly under the control of the Baʿth regime being in foreign custody. The wartime interventions of US-based actors with Iraqi archival collections have been determinative in dictating which aspects of the Iraqi historical record have been preserved, where it has been stored, who can access it, and how it can be deployed in the production of historical narratives. This thesis combines critical archival theory with oral history analysis in order to assess the political and ideological structures that frame relations between the US and Iraq and determined the displacements of the archives; by conducting research through interviews with the individuals involved in the collection, displacement and custody of the archives, this thesis offers a critical new understanding of the histories of these archives and their displacements. Ultimately, this thesis argues that when the control of archives changes hands, the archives continue to both reflect and constitute power relations, which are reconfigured as a result of conflict. The trajectories of the displaced archives illustrate the ways in which war reconfigures political, socioeconomic and cultural forces within a global context, the traces of which are carried in the archives.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Iraq, displaced archives, documentary heritage, conflict, Gulf Wars.
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
College of Arts > School of Humanities > Information Studies
Supervisor's Name: White, Dr. Benjamin and Redhead, Ms. Adele and Abrams, Professor Lynn
Date of Award: 2021
Embargo Date: 27 August 2024
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82411
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 30 Aug 2021 10:34
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2021 09:59
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82411

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item