How Iraqi refugees navigate life, belonging, and exclusion in America
The US invasion of Iraq in 2003 caused the largest forced migration in the Middle East since 1948, with millions of people fleeing to Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Iran, European Union, Australia and the United States. In Iraqi Refugees in the United States, Ken R. Crane explores the uphill climb faced by Iraqi refugees who have sought belonging in a country engaged in an ongoing War on Terror.
Drawing on numerous interviews and fieldwork, Crane explores the diverse experiences of a community of Iraqi refugees, showing how they have struggled to negotiate their place in the wake of mass displacement. He highlights the promise of belonging, as well as their many painful encounters with exclusion. Ultimately, Crane provides a window into the complexities of what "becoming American" means for Iraqi refugees, even as they are perceived by other Americans as "security threats."
As debates about immigration and refugee status continue to play out in headlines and the courts, Iraqi Refugees in the United States provides important insight into the global refugee crisis.
Ken R. Crane
With the 'War on Terror' and ongoing panic about migration and Islam, the few Iraqi refugees the US has admitted have faced particular challenges. Ken R. Crane shows how some of them have met these challenges with an account of how struggles to belong-that began with sanction-induced stresses and the US invasion-continued as refugees settled in the US. His up-close analysis of Iraqis living in the far-flung suburbs and exurbs at the edge of Los Angeles, known as the Inland Empire, shows how they "obliquely" resist assumptions about success and the good life implicit in state efforts to mold ideal immigrants, make concerted efforts to maintain connections among themselves, and find common ground with their Latinx neighbors. Based on nearly a decade of research that altered Crane's own previous assumptions as a humanitarian worker, the book critically connects US foreign and domestic policies by letting the reader follow the evolution of families of different backgrounds and faith communities as they face Islamophobia, racialization, and find their way into new American lives at bake sales, soccer practices and neighborhood tiendas. -- Susan Ossman, author of Shifting Worlds, Shaping Fieldwork: A Memoir of Anthropology and Art Compassionately and carefully tells the story of Iraqis displaced from their home country and forced to resettle in the U.S. owing to George W. Bush's unbecoming 'war on terror.' Crane poignantly and meticulously builds an understanding of what belongingness meant for the displaced and resettled Iraqis in a country whose political decisions and actions had upended their lives. The book amplifies the voices of a diverse group of Iraqis as they combatted the worst economic recession, the rising Islamophobia and the constant reminder of the violence they fled. A compelling portrait of resilience, belonging, and an intense desire for a peaceful future for their families and community. -- Pallavi Banerjee, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Calgary