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Reidar Visser


Reidar Visser [Senior Research Fellow]

(+47) 482 39 915
Post address:
Pb 8159 Dep, 0033 Oslo
Visiting address:
C.J. Hambros plass 2 D


Book launch, Middle East Institute, Washington, DC [link]
New book: A Responsible End? [link]

Current research

Reidar Visser specialises in the history of the state system of the modern Middle East, regionalist movements, the politics of city states, and historiography in politics. His work on the question of decentralisation and federalism in southern Iraq is available from the website 

Engaged in the research project  Iraq's future on Iraqi terms  .

Formal education
D. Phil., University of Oxford
Cand. polit., University of Bergen

Professional experience
Research Fellow, NUPI


Publications [vis kronologisk]

Articles (in books and journals)
  • Visser, Reidar (2012). Sectarian Coexistence in Iraq: The Experiences of the Shi‘a in Areas North of Baghdad,

    in Imranali Panjwani (ed): The Shi’a of Samarra: The Heritage & Politics of a Community in Iraq

    .I.B.Tauris.p. 163-176.In this book chapter, Reidar Visser discusses the experiences of the shi‘a in areas north of Baghdad in a wider Iraqi politics discourse. [url]
  • Visser, Reidar (2011). Iraq,

    in Assaf Moghadam (ed.) Militancy and Political Violence in Shiism: Trends and Patterns 

    .New York,Routledge.p. .Reidar Visser has written a contribution on Iraq in Assaf Moghadam's book about militancy and political violence in Shiism. [url]
  • Visser, Reidar (2011). Policing a Messy Federation: The Role of the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court, 2005-2010,

    in Orient vol. 52 nr. 2

    .p. 12-18.This article looks at the role of the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court in adjudicating the ground rules of Iraq’s new federalism that have been introduced gradually since the US occupation began in 2003. The main argument is that from the adoption of the new Iraqi constitution in October 2005, the supreme court has changed its views on federalism quite considerably, apparently at least to some extent due to political pressure. [url]
  • Visser, Reidar (2010). Social Complexity and National Identity in Hanna Batatu's Scholarship on Iraq,

    in Chris Toensing and Mimi kirk (ed.) Uncovering Iraq: Trajectories of Disintegration and Transformation

    .Washington, DC, Georgetown University Press.p. .This book chapter traces Hanna Batatu's Scholarship on Iraq and pays special attention to social complexity and national identity. [url]
  • Visser, Reidar (2010). The territorial aspect of sectarianism in Iraq,

    i International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies 4 (3)

    .Intellect.p. 295-304.This article examines the territorial aspect of sectarian relations in Iraq. The main argument is that such a territorial component is largely missing in Iraq and that historically, there have been very few attempts to connect sectarian identity in Iraq to specific, more restricted territories of the country. [url]
  • Visser, Reidar (2010). Tribalism in Iraq: resurgent force or anachronism in the modern state? ,

    Contemporary Arab Affairs, vol. 3 nr. 4

    .Routledge.p. 495-502.This article criticizes the way in which the concept of 'tribalism' has been used by Western policy-makers and media in post-2003 Iraq. [url]
  • Visser, Reidar (2010). The Kurdish Issue in Iraq: A View from Baghdad at the Close of the Maliki Premiership,

    The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, vol. 34, nr. 1


    .The Fletcher School, Tufts University.p. 77-94.As violence in Iraq has subsided since 2007, the “Kurdish issue” has reemerged as one of the greatest threats to future stability in Iraq. [url]
  • Visser, Reidar (2010). Iraq Moves Backward,

    Middle East Report no. 255, Summer 2010

    .p. 2-7. There's been a dramatic change in Iraqi politics from 2009 to 2010. The easiest way to understand this change is to look at shifts in the discourse of politicians belonging to the Da‘wa Party of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. [url]
  • Visser, Reidar (2009). New Non-State Players and Implications for Regional Security: The Case of the Shiite Religious Establishment of Iraq,

    SAIS Review vol. 29, no.2 (Summer-Fall 2009)

    .The Johns Hopkins University Press.p. 11-20.The main argument outlined in this article is that the Shiite religious establishment in Iraq remains reluctant in its interactions with state institutions, and continues to fear that its transnational character and unique legitimacy worldwide could become compromised by too close an association with the temporal governments of individual countries. [url]
  • Visser, Reidar (2009). Proto-political conceptions of ‘Iraq’ in late Ottoman times,

    International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, Volume 3, Number 2

    .Intellect Ltd..p. 143-154.This article criticizes the so-called ‘artificiality paradigm’ concerning the emergence of the modern state on Iraq, according to which the kingdom of Iraq that came into being in 1921 was nothing but a random collection of Ottoman provinces that had little in common. On the basis of documents from the late Ottoman period, the article shows that the opposite appears to be the case. [url]
  • Visser, Reidar (2009). Europeisk Irak-politikk,

    i Rieker, Pernille og Walter Emanuel Carlsnæs [red.] Nye utfordringer for europeisk sikkerhetspolitikk. Aktører, instrumenter og operasjoner

    . Oslo, Universitetsforlaget.p. 207-216.Kapittelet drøfter europeisk Irak-politikk på ett utvalgt område: Europas overordnede syn på Irak som en politisk enhet og dens levedyktighet. [url]
  • Visser, Reidar (2008). Taming the Hegemonic Power: SCIRI and the Evolution of US Policy in Iraq,

    International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies vol. 2, no. 1

    .Bristol, Intellect.p. 31-51.This article discusses the historical development of the United States' special relationship with the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), one of the Shi'ite religious parties of Iraq. [url]
  • Visser, Reidar (2008). Historical Myths of a Divided Iraq,

    in Survival, vol. 50, no. 2

    .Abingdon,Routledge Journals.p. 95-106.This article challenges the conventional view that Iraq is an "artificial" creation and points out the substantial pre-modern roots of a centralised, multi-ethnic Iraqi state with Baghdad as its capital. [url]
  • Visser, Reidar (2008). The Western Imposition of Sectarianism on Iraqi Politics,

    in Arab Studies Journal vol. 16 no. 1

    .Washington DC,Georgetown University.p. 83-99. [url]
  • Visser, Reidar (2007). Ethnicity, Federalism and the Idea of Sectarian Citizenship in Iraq,

    in International Review of the Red Cross, vol. 89, nr. 868

    .Cambridge,Cambridge University Press.p. 809-822.The article discusses the “ethnic paradigm” that currently prevails in analyses of Iraqi history and politics. [url]
  • Visser, Reidar (2007). The Surge, the Shiites and Nation Building in Iraq,

    Terrorism Monitor volume 5, Issue 17

    .Washington D.C.,The Jamestown Foundation. [url]
  • Visser, Reidar (2007). Basra, the Reluctant Seat of Shiastan,

    Middle East Report , no. 242.



    .On Basra resistance to the scheme for a single Shiite federal entity. [url]
  • Visser, Reidar (2007). Other People's Maps,

    The Wilson Quarterly, Winter 2007.



    .On the parallels between US partition plans for post-war Iraq and the Sykes-Picot Agreement of World War I. [url]
  • Visser, Reidar (2006). Sentralisme i Irak: en overlevning fra mandatperioden?,

    Babylon: Journal on the Middle East and North Africa, vol. 4, no. 1

    English text available at:

    .p. 28-35. [url]
  • Visser, Reidar (2006). Osmanli eyalet sinirlari, Sii federalizmi ve Iraktaki enerji anlasmazligi,

    Stratejik Analiz

    English text available at:

    Turkish text available at:

    .p. 83-90. [url]
  • Visser, Reidar (2004). Shi'i Perspectives on a Federal Iraq: Territory, Community and Ideology in Conceptions of a New Polity,

    In Daniel Heradstveit and Helge Hveem (eds.) Oil in the Gulf: Obstacles to Democracy and Development.

    .Aldershot,Ashgate.p. 125-166.A survey of diversity of opinion among Shiites on the subject of federalism in Iraq. [url]

Books and reports

Working Papers

Popular publishing