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Kurdish Guests or Syrian Refugees?: Negotiating Displacement, Identity and Belonging in the Kurdistan Region
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, REMESO - Institute for Research on Migration, Ethnicity and Society.
2018 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

With the conflict ongoing in Syria since 2011, many Syrian Kurds have been forced to leave their homes to seek safety and security in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Their displacement to KRI is a distinctive experience of migration as it has happened within an intra-ethnic setting of Syrian Kurds, as refugees, encountering Iraqi Kurds, as hosts. Sharing ethnic identification and imagination of a historical homeland but holding different nationalities, has turned identity and belonging into sites of contestation between the refugees and the hosts. Within this intra-ethnic setting of displacement, the study has investigated the construction of home and politics of identity and belonging among the refugees in relation to protection regimes and forms of inclusion and exclusion. This has been done through a content analysis of relevant policy and regulations for refugees in KRI and Iraq and a thematic analysis of individual narrative interviews with the refugees themselves. Research results from the policy analysis have indicated the lack of a comprehensive protection regime in Iraq and KRI, and the deployment of the ‘guests’ rhetoric towards the refugees as a responsibility evasion mechanism. Results from the interviews have revealed that home for the participants is plural, and it connects to Syria and Kurdistan to varying degrees. Their identity as Kurds is contested when their Syrianness is evoked with boundaries limiting their recognition to be both Syrian and Kurdish. Similarly, their belonging is challenged with their social position as refugees and their legal belonging to Syria. With this, they get involved into a continuum of politics of identity and belonging ranging between the situational demonstration of their Syrian identity and the role of ‘the successful Syrian refugee’, and the accentuation of their attachment to Kurdishness through belonging to Rojava. These politics have been discussed as reflecting a process of reconstructing Syrian Kurdish identity in the light of the experience of displacement and the intra-ethnic encounter. Contextualizing the research results in a wider perspective, it is argued that they carry further implications related to the Kurdish struggle with identity and belonging, not only in KRI, but in all the other parts of Kurdistan. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. , p. 74
Keywords [en]
identity, belonging, intra-ethnic relations, displacement, Syrian Kurdish refugees, Syria, Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
National Category
International Migration and Ethnic Relations
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-149451ISRN: LiU-ISV/EMS-A--18/06--SEOAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-149451DiVA, id: diva2:1229664
Subject / course
Master's Programme in Ethnic and Migration Studies
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2018-07-04 Created: 2018-07-01 Last updated: 2018-07-04Bibliographically approved

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