Place-Making, Provisional Return, and Well-Being: Iraqi Refugee Women in Australia

Katie Vasey

Abstract


Returning to Iraq, even for a visit, was something Iraqi refugees residing in Australia could only dream about while Saddam Hussein remained in power because the ongoing social, economic, and political conditions made return impossible. Despite danger and chaos, the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime (May–December 2003) gave exiled Iraqis the unique opportunity to visit their homelands. In this article, I draw on ethnographic research conducted with 26 Iraqi Shi’i women from refugee backgrounds who resettled in a small country town in Australia. I explored their experiences of provisional return to Iraq, and questioned how their return influences their “home” making in Australia. In this context, I interrogated the complex, contradictory and ambivalent relationships that Iraqi women developed with both their host and home countries and how this impacted upon their well-being.

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