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When the Nation is Under Threat: The Assyrian and Chaldean-American Diaspora and the Complicated Politics of Refugee Resettlement

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For stateless diasporas, the homeland is often central to their identity and imagining, representing the roots or anchor of its national existence. As observed within the Assyrian and Chaldean diaspora in the United States, the violent displacement of the diaspora's ethnic community from Iraq poses an existential crisis: Can the nation survive, absent a territorial homeland and conationals therein? Will aiding emigration lead to the loss of the nation? This paper examines how the diaspora responded to the nation's displacement from the homeland, and how perceptions of nationalism and belonging influence policy choices, particularly regarding the question of refugee admissions. Comparing the diaspora's response to the post-2003 sectarian conflict and to ISIL's takeover of northern Iraq in 2014, it finds two fundamentally different ideologies: that which believes territorial nationalism within Iraq is the nation's only hope for continued existence, and that which believes the nation can survive in diaspora, absent a homeland.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2017

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  • The St Antony's International Review (STAIR) is the only peer-reviewed journal of international affairs at the University of Oxford. Set up by graduate students of St Antony's College in 2005, the Review has carved out a distinctive niche as a cross-disciplinary outlet for research on the most pressing contemporary global issues, providing a forum in which emerging scholars can publish their work alongside established academics and policymakers. Past contributors include Robert O. Keohane, James N. Rosenau, and Alfred Stepan.
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