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Cultural trauma and its impact on the Iraqi Assyrian experience of identity

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Niveen Kassem, Professor Mark Jackson



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Routledge, 2020.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


This article explores the impact of a century of cultural trauma and marginalisation on the shaping of modern Iraqi Assyrians’ identity and their present-day experiences, including their decisions and sense of belonging to their homeland. Using questionnaire and interview data, we explore how Assyrians who participated in this study respond to a century of persecution during and since WWI, and discuss their current situation in relation to their ethnic and cultural rights in Iraq. Based on data collected from Iraqi Assyrians who reside in various geographical places, we argue that these Assyrians still see themselves on the receiving end of ongoing marginalisation which has long precedents and has not only become part of their identity, but continues to shape their present-day experiences and decisions about where to settle. Nevertheless, we found that historical events have reinforced Assyrians’ ethnic identity and their affiliation with their heritage and religion. The findings are discussed in relation to how cultural trauma shapes a group’s collective identity and experiences.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kassem N, Jackson M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Social Identities

Year: 2020

Volume: 26

Issue: 3

Pages: 388-402

Online publication date: 15/05/2020

Acceptance date: 22/04/2020

Date deposited: 15/05/2020

ISSN (print): 1350-4630

ISSN (electronic): 1363-0296

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/13504630.2020.1762557


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Funder referenceFunder name
Arts and Humanities Research Council