"Statisquo": British Use of Statistics in the Iraqi Kurdish Question (1919-32)
Dr. Fuat Dundar Crown Paper 7, July 2012
In post-2003 Iraq, the Kurds have continuously appealed for territorial rights in the regions where they claim to be the majority and have demanded a quota in the Iraqi state apparatus. As a result, conducting a census has become one of the most important battlefields in Iraq’s contemporary politics. In this Crown Paper, Dr. Fuat Dundar traces the use of statistics as a political tool in Iraq back to the exploitation of statistical data during the British mandate period (1919-1932). He also examines sets of British, Turkish, Iraqi, and League of Nations population data within the political context of its time. In particular, Dr. Dundar illuminates how the population data on Kurds—collected by the British—were used to protect the latter’s political and military interests as well as to maintain the status quo. In this way, statistics, ordinarily considered to be a scientific and objective tool, became a subjective tool in the service of political disputes.