Shrines of Dissidence: Shi'a Clerics and Political Mobilization in Baathist Iraq
This paper explores the role of Shi’a clerics in inciting political mobilization in Baathist Iraq, looking particularly at four case studies: the 1991 Intifada, the First Sadr Revolts of 1977-1979 and the Second Sadr Revolt of 1999. It asks two questions: 1) Is the symbolic power of Shi’a clerics heightened during religious holidays, thereby making political mobilization more likely in holidays, rather than regular, time? And 2) is the symbolic power of Shi’a clerics strengthened by geographical location, thereby making political mobilization more likely to occur in sacred spaces? The evidence suggests that there is a correlation between religious holidays and uprisings as well as between sacred spaces and uprisings. However, this link does not extend to the religious establishment. In fact, the data provides evidence that clerics are less likely to incite an uprising and more likely to either be co-opted or to act opportunistically and join when the movement gains success.