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(Re)valuations of Land in the Kurdistan Region, Iraq

Katharina Lange

This project aims at an ethnographic exploration of shifting valuations of land in the Kurdistan Region of Northern Iraq, using biographical and family history interviews as well as participant observation. Due to the region’s violent recent history, agricultural production has declined significantly over the last four decades. Today, the rural sector is still marginal compared to the booming urban conglomerations and the fast-paced development of the petroleum industry. Further reasons for the decline of rural life are intergenerational changes in symbolic valuations and lifestyle aspirations, lack of agricultural knowledge, but also structural political decisions which pursue an urban development model, neglecting the countryside.
Nevertheless, land prices rise in rural as well as urban settings. What are the reasons for this development; for which purposes is agricultural land being used, how are property rights in land (re-)distributed in a given rural location, and to which extent can, or must, the material or economic value accorded to land be contextualized with cross-cutting other (symbolic, political, or social) valuations? How can the answers to these questions enrich our ways of thinking about the (re-)valuation of material resources?