Examining the interplay between the oil economy and identity politics using the Kurdistan Region of Iraq as a case study, this book tells the untold story of how extractivism in the Kurdish autonomous region is interwoven in a mosaic of territorial disputes, simmering ethnic tensions, dynastic rule, party allegiances, crony patronage, and divergent visions about nature.

Since the ousting of Saddam Hussein, the de-facto borders of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq have repeatedly changed, with energy interests playing a major role in such processes of territorialisation. However, relatively little research exists on the topic. This book provides a timely, empirical analysis of the intersections between extractive industries, oil imaginaries, and identity formation in one of the most coveted energy frontiers worldwide. It shines a light on relations between the global production networks of petro-capitalism and extractive localities. Besides the strained federal relationship with the Iraqi central government, the transformative effects the petroleum industry has had on Kurdish society are also explored in depth. Moreover, the book fills a gap in the literature on Kurdish Studies, which has devoted scant attention to energy-related issues in the re-imagination of Kurdish self-determination.

This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of the extractive industries, energy studies, conflict studies, Middle Eastern politics, and political ecology.

chapter |8 pages


The trail of oil

chapter 1|43 pages

The nature of conflict

On oil and violence

chapter 2|34 pages

The Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Borders, identity, oil

chapter 3|35 pages

The gate to statehood

Kurdish nationalism and the oil dream

chapter 4|31 pages

A nation divided

Kurdish infighting and black gold

chapter 5|23 pages

No friends but the mountains

Extractivism and social control

chapter |12 pages


The making of oil environments