SOAS University of London

Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies

Conceiving statelessness from diaspora: The case of Kurds in Europe

Barzoo Eliassi, International Migration Institute, Oxford

Date: 19 March 2014Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 19 March 2014Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G51

Type of Event: Seminar

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Barzoo Eliassi - Conceiving statelessness from diaspora: The case of Kurds in Europe

The Kurdish diaspora in Sweden is predominantly a product of political and economic deprivation in the Middle East. Although Kurds are often defined and registered as nationals or citizens of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, the questions of statehood and statelessness shape and complicate their discourses about identity and spatial belonging. The emergence of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq has materialized Kurdistan as a political entity and can no longer be reduced to the illusion of overzealous Kurdish nationalists. Hence, the Kurdistan Region has become a source of political inspiration and intensified Kurdish demands about undoing the centralized power of the Turkish, Iranian and Syrian state. For Kurds, the question "where are you from?" becomes a troubling moment in which they are urged to define their "original" identity in the context of nation-state and paradoxically reproducing the political value of nationalism as a potent form of categorization, identification and belonging.  The stateless is both a product and the Other of the nation-state. Consequently, statelessness creates political invisibility and non-recognition in the name of overarching political identities to which many Kurds do not conform. In this regard, Kurdish diaspora becomes a contesting force that not only challenges the identity of the state but also its citizenship. This paper draws upon empirical work carried out in Sweden and the UK among Kurdish migrants/refugees within the framework of the research project: (Re)Conceptualising stateless diasporas in the EU.

Organiser: Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies

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