Displacement in Iraq after 2003: coerced decisions in a time of crisis

PhD Thesis

Ali, Ali 2012. Displacement in Iraq after 2003: coerced decisions in a time of crisis. PhD Thesis University of East London School of Law and Social Sciences https://doi.org/10.15123/PUB.3038
AuthorsAli, Ali
TypePhD Thesis

This is a refugee-centred study of the decision making process of Iraqis displaced after the
Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003. It investigates the pressures and influences that
affected their decisions as well as who was involved and consulted. In doing so it sheds light
on the under-theorised issue of what it means to be forced into a migration decision. The
meaning of coercion is examined and applied to a forced migration context, considering the
dynamics of cumulative causation in the process. The study also attempts to advance
understandings of the relationship between state-formation and displacement. Narratives of
Iraqis forced to migrate to Syria after 2003 were collected between June 2010 and April 2011
and form the primary data in this study. Narrative methods were used to elicit extended
testimonies from Iraqis in Syria in order to explore conceptual issues.
The research demonstrates the complex nature of forced migration and how displacement can
be experienced as a process. Transformations of state which occurred in Iraq after the 2003
invasion led to purges which affected numerous groups perceived to belong to the old order.
Iraqis who were perceived to be associated - rightly or wrongly - with the former regime
experienced pressures and threats which resulted in some of them becoming migrants. The
same transformations also manifested themselves as coercive alterations of spaces in Iraqis'
daily lives. In a climate of generalised violence and insecurity, an array of threats and
pressures, including those resulting from the dynamics of cumulative causation, combined to
form what the author calls a coercive landscape: a social world in which choices are
diminished and life is heavily constrained by a multiplicity of threats – and which is likely to
induce mass displacement. Although grounded in a specifically Iraqi context, it may be useful
for scholars to test this concept in other contexts of mass displacement.

KeywordsIraq; internal displacement; forced migration
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/PUB.3038
Publication dates
PrintOct 2012
Publication process dates
Deposited08 Jul 2013
Publisher's version
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