SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Ms Emanuelle Degli Esposti

BA (Oxford), MA (Oxford), MSc (SOAS)
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  • Teaching
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Emanuelle Degliesposti
Department of Politics and International Studies

Graduate Teaching Assistant

Ms Emanuelle Degli Esposti
Email address:
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
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Thesis title:
Through the Fractured Looking Glass: Power, Subjectivity and the State in the Iraqi Shi’a Diaspora
Year of Study:
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

Arguing for an alternative conception of the social world that takes seriously the ambivalent relationship between psychic and material reality, this thesis puts forward the claim that contemporary forms of political subjectivity in the Iraqi Shi’a diaspora continue to be shaped by the phantasmatic power of the Ba’thist state. The working hypothesis informing this research is that the affective and psychic residues created by the bureaucratic and discursive practices of Ba’thist Iraq, especially the emphasis on pan-Arabism and the ethno-nationalist rhetoric of the Iranian “other”, have fed into the fostering of a politicised variant of Iraqi Shi’ism that explicitly opposes sectarian to ethnic or cultural categories of identification.  Conversely, the ways in which the transnational and historical links between Iraqi and Iranian Shi’ism have been problematized, negotiated, and performed by different individuals and groups within the Iraqi Shi’a diaspora are diverse and multifaceted, and represent the site of the differential reproduction of power – the locus for political agency as conceived within this thesis. Thus while the theoretical focus of the thesis is to determine the scope for agency in the relationship between power and the subject, the empirical focus will be on the various narratives, performances, and orientations that contribute to diverse social and political practices in the Iraqi Shi’a diaspora that nevertheless all position themselves, either implicitly or explicitly, on a spectrum which lies between the two poles of “Iraqiness” and “Iranianess”, however perceived. Examples of such positionalitites may involve a range of practices, from public engagement or affiliation with political or religious parties and institutions such as the Hizb-ut Da’wa or the Iraqi Communist Party, to the intimate and implicit articulations of what it means to be “Iraqi” or “Shi’a” as encountered and performed in the everyday diasporic space.


  • ʺBeing Shi'a in Europeʺ (April 2015) Research Workshop organised by the Aga Khan University
    European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) (March 2015). Paper presentation.
    World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies (WOCMES) (Aug 2014), Ankara, Turkey. Paper presentation.
  • International Society of Political Psychology (ISPP) (July 2014), Rome, Italy. Paper presentation.
  • Birkbeck Institute for Social Research Post-Graduate Conference (May 2014). Chaired panel on “The Transformative Space”.
  • Oxford Migration Studies Society (OMSS) (May 2013), Oxford, UK. Paper presentation.


  • London Middle East Institute (LMEI)
  • British Institute for the Study of Iraq (BISI)
  • British Institute of Persian Studies (BIPS)
  • British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES)
  • Royal Anthropological Institute



Politics, Anthropology, Middle East, Psychosocial Studies, Subjectivity