Iraqi diasporic identity across generations, struggle, and war
Alkhairo, Marwa Wael.
Thesis (M.A.)--Georgetown University, 2008.; Includes bibliographical references. Now more than ever, Iraqi sectarian and ethnic identities have assumed larger roles in Iraq's political conflict due to a sectarianism discourse and sectarian infighting. Since before the 2003 Iraq war, many US policymakers and the media have sustained this discourse by presupposing that communal identities reign supreme in Iraq, and that there is therefore no societal cohesion as Iraqi national sentiment and identity do not exist. This simplistic postulation is inadequate and can lead to disastrous proposals- leaving a nuanced and multi-layered understanding to be pursued. This thesis examines Iraqi diasporic identity-formation by analyzing 77 extensive interviews with members of the Iraqi diasporic community residing in the Washington, DC-Metropolitan area. It traces the interviewees' self-narratives from their time in Iraq until today; and examines if and how their identity-formations have been affected since leaving Iraq and more specifically after the 2003 Iraq war. Through nostalgic memories, many Iraqis have frozen their past to cope with the perplexing present, and project the frozen past to the future as a refuge for their identity. A majority of the interviewees do not identify with post-2003 Iraq, blame the violence on external forces, reject the sectarianism discourse, tell their memories of a unified Iraq, and hope for a homegrown democratic government that places Iraqi society as its main priority. They live in a condition of diasporic (dis)enchantment and have created refuge identities that provide them a sense of permanence.
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