Finding One's Place in Chaos. Returnees' Reintegration Experiences in Northern Iraq

Release date: 2023-03

Migration in northern Iraq is a product of global, postcolonial processes driven by highly unequal international relations of global capitalism and geopolitics. With a focus on ‘reintegration’ experiences of returnees to northern Iraq who have left abroad over the last four decades and returned since the 1990s, this Working Paper takes into view a myriad of people who had very different reasons for migrating—either for conflict/political and/or economic reason—and returning at some or several points in time. While their experiences after return with settling (back) in are highly individual, this Paper focuses on reintegration as a process from an emic perspective. It analyses the experiences of compelled and self-decided returnees in re-establishing themselves after return by looking at their return preparedness—understood as the willingness and readiness to return—at the individual and institutional level. Therefore, four reintegration dimensions (economic, social, psychological, political-structural) form the lens for the investigation. Studying (northern) Iraq, among other origin and return countries for migrants in Europe, is unique because financial remittances do not constitute a main motivation for emigration as, e.g., in West Africa or the Western Balkans. Instead, Iraqi Kurds seek a better life, and their migration entails the search for autonomy and often signifies a political act of emancipation from governance failure in the origin context.