Diaspora and transitional administration: Shiite Iraqi diaspora and the administration of post-Saddam Hussein Iraq

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Post conflict stability operations, Diaspora, Transitional administration, Shiite, Post-Saddam Hussein, Coalition Provisional Authority

Subject Categories

Anthropology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Cultural Anthropology


This dissertation addresses the role of diaspora communities in international transitional administrations. I focus on Shiite Iraqi diaspora in the United States and Europe that returned to Iraq in official roles with the Iraqi Reconstruction Development Council (IRDC), a branch of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). This project is significant for three reasons. First it provides an in-depth and first hand account of the socio-political context of Najaf, Iraq, the holiest city for Shiite Muslims, in the year immediately following the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Second, it contributes to an important but limited academic debate (Laipson 2002): the role of diaspora communities in transitional administrations, particularly in post war Iraq. Finally, it highlights non-elite returning Iraqis who played a role in reconstruction efforts with CPA. The main group that I worked with was the IRDC team in Najaf and I was in constant personal contact with local men from Najaf representing all sectors of society including religion, education, and politics.

The research for this project took place in Najaf, Iraq, over two intervals. The first was September 2003 to March 2004 when the Department of State asked me to leave my diplomatic post in Bahrain to serve as the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) Public Affairs Officer in Najaf. In January, 2005, I returned to south central Iraq to assist the U.S. Embassy with the January 31, 2005, elections.


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