Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Farah, Randa


For the past 30 years, imperial military invasions and political meddling in Iraq, and a long history of a repressive Ba’athist regime disfigured the nation, displaced Iraqis from their homeland, and unsettled their relationship to it. By examining the narratives of Iraqi exiles who have diverse migration genealogies, socioeconomic backgrounds, and political trajectories in Amman, Jordan, this thesis looks at how exile shapes how the homeland is imagined, remembered, and performed. Based on fieldwork and interviews conducted in Amman between May and September of 2017, the thesis explores: 1) Why certain narratives and elements of the past are employed, while other elements are forgotten or silenced when individual narrators reflect on home and homeland? 2) How do these elements, practices, and memories that are associated with the homeland feature in exilic life, and what does it tell us about the notion of home, the possibility of home-making in exile, and the role of homeland nostalgias? 3) In what way does the past and present of Iraq feature in imagining the homeland for the future? I propose that in contexts in which the homeland has been destroyed and disfigured by imperial aggressions and repressive regimes, home converges with the homeland in many contexts, and such convergence may be read as a strategic act confronting traumatic past(s) in the homeland and a precarious exilic present. The thesis shows that there is no singular or ‘authentic’ construction of the homeland, and rather these representations are rooted in the diverse subjectivities of Iraqi exiles, despite the Ba’athist past and the 2003 invasion being central and recurring elements that continue to inform and organize homeland narratives and imaginings in exile.