The Kurdish Diaspora: Transnational Ties, Home, and Politics of Belonging
Minoo Alinia, Östen Wahlbeck, Barzoo Eliassi, Khalid Khayati
This special issue of Nordic Journal of Migration Research is based on an international conference on “Kurdish Migration and Diaspora”, organised by the Hugo Valentin Centre, Uppsala University, 12–14 April 2012. The conference was coordinated by Associate Professor Minoo Alinia who invited Dr Barzoo Eliassi, Dr Khalid Khayati and Adjunct Professor Östen Wahlbeck to join her as editors of this special issue. The editorial work has been chaired by Alinia, but all four issue editors have jointly and equally contributed to the editorial process. In the writing of this particular introductory article, Wahlbeck played a leading role. In this issue, we have chosen to include a selection of articles that discuss the recent developments in the Kurdish diaspora including the significance of the emergence of new generations of youth with a Kurdish background. We believe this selection of articles is of importance both for theoretical contributions to migration and diaspora studies and for shedding light on the current state of the Kurdish diaspora, which constitutes considerable minorities in several European countries. Many of the authors in this issue are themselves researchers with a Kurdish background. The research area of Kurdish Studies has developed significantly, both quantitatively and qualitatively, in Europe during the last decades (cf. Meho & Maglaughlin 2001). A leading scholar in the field, Martin van Bruinessen outlined the development of Kurdish Studies in the following way in his speech at the conference in Uppsala: “Originally a colonial discipline, pioneered by Russian, British and French officials serving their governments’ imperialist projects, the important new contributions to the field are increasingly made by Kurds trained in Western institutions” (Bruinessen 2012). In this context, academic institutions in the Nordic countries have become particularly important for the growing international field of Kurdish Diaspora Studies. Therefore, we believe that this special issue of the Nordic Journal of Migration Research represents topical issues and some of the most recent research on the Kurdish diaspora. A considerable share of this research has been conducted in the Nordic countries and this special issue will have a clear Nordic focus, with both the research carried out in the Nordic countries and by researchers who for the most are located in the Nordic countries. Among the Nordic countries, Sweden has for a long time been an important site for Kurdish cultural and political activities (cf. Sheikhmous 1990, 1993; Zettervall 2013). Thus, it is not surprising that many of the articles discuss the Swedish context.