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“An Emotion Like in Kind”: Necropolitics and the Uses of Psychology in British-Occupied Iraq, 1914-32


Institute For Middle East Studies

Join IMES for a discussion regarding the occupation of British-controlled Iraq.


  • Sara Pursley is a Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton University. She received her PhD in history in 2012 from the Graduate Center of CUNY, where she taught for two years in the master’s program in Middle East Studies and for three years in the history department of Queens College. She works on the cultural and social history of the modern Middle East, especially around questions of subject formation, gender, economic development and modernization theory, conceptions of time and space, histories of psychology and selfhood, and the expansion of American influence in the region. Pursley is working on her first book manuscript, Familiar Futures: Time, Selfhood, and Sovereignty in Iraq, 1932-63 (Stanford University Press). It looks at how various notions of time and selfhood shaped pedagogical interventions in the family, the school system, and the law, especially in the context of decolonization, the dawn of the global “age of development,” and the 1958 Iraqi revolution. Her planned second book explores the social and ecological effects of postwar land settlement projects in Iraq, Syria, and Jordan that relocated peasants and pastoral nomads onto isolated nuclear-family farms in accordance with US Cold War modernization theories of agrarian reform and political stability. In 2016, Pursley will join the department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at NYU as assistant professor of modern Middle East history.