Migration, Identity, and Social Mobility among Iraqis in Egypt

Elisa Pascucci

Abstract


Based on a small-scale qualitative research project with Iraqis living in 6th of October City, one of Cairo’s satellite cities, the paper explores the role shifting social identities play in Iraqis’ experience of migration and forced displacement. In doing so, it focuses on three major themes emerging from the ethnographic material. First, it discusses the relation between social change in the homeland and other dimensions of Iraqis’ belonging, particularly ethnoreligious sectarianism. Secondly, it analyzes the role education and work play in the strategies refugees employ to resist dispossession, as well as in the practices through which other categories of Iraqi migrants rewrite their social identities. Finally, Iraqis’ relation with Egyptian society is briefly explored. The findings are discussed in relation to existing literature about social and political change in post-2003 Iraq, but also in contemporary Egypt. In doing so, I hope to contribute to re-embed the study of Iraqi migration within the Middle East in its historical and socio-political context, moving beyond policy-driven approaches.

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