Working Paper

Migration From Iraq Between the Gulf and the Iraq Wars (1990-2003): Historical and Socio-Spatial Dimensions

Published 1 January 2009 / By GĂ©raldine Chatelard

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This paper analyses trends and patterns of migration from Iraq with a focus on the movement of those Iraqis who left their country between the Gulf war in 1990-1991 and the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in April 2003. The conceptual frame of migration orders is used combined with approaches suggested by social geography and social anthropology. The first part sketches the dynamics, flows, directions, geographical poles and sociological features of Iraqi emigration before the 1990-1991 Gulf war. The second part looks in more details at the reshaping of the Iraqi migration order that took place between the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the end of 2002. The last part considers a series of social variables (familial, communal/corporate and class) relevant for migration dynamics in the regional context and in Iraq. The paper discusses the relevance of distinguishing between the political and economic causes of emigration; argues that a combination between forced migration and collective dynamics characterises the post-Gulf war Iraqi migration order; and evaluates the role of migrants' social networks at the regional and global levels. It is finally argued that the new migration order that emerged from embargoed Iraq launched long-lasting and far-ranging collective migration dynamics that need to be accounted for to understand the migration mouvements taking place from post-Ba'thist Iraq.


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