Abstract

Drawing on theoretical development in the field of migration studies, this paper examines the relevance of the 'myth of return' to refugee groups. It rejects the assumption that refugees' attachment to their homeland and their desire to return to it are 'natural' givens. The myth of return and its predominance among a refugee community are dependent on past refugee experiences and the relationship of the group with its country of origin. This is illustrated by considering two cases of refugee groups: Iraqi Arabs and Iraqi Assyrians. The first belong to the mainstream population of the country, whereas the second are a Christian minority in Iraq. The paper concludes that the presence or absence of the myth of return among refugee groups is important for understanding not only the relationship with the homeland, but also the relationship with the host country.

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