The doctoral research project, supervised by Dr. Jørgen Carling (Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)) and Prof. Katrine Fangen (University of Oslo), is part of the international research project ‘Possibilities and Realities of Return Migration (PREMIG)’, funded by the Norwegian research programme ‘Welfare, Working life and Migration’, and led by Dr. Jørgen Carling.
Return migration has been described as the great unwritten chapter in migration studies. This doctoral research project explores the sociology of return migration to Iraqi Kurdistan, applying transnational theory in the analysis of what is hypothesized as a complex social interplay between emigrants, returnees and non-migrants. Firstly, the return decision-making process will be empirically explored through interviews with Iraqi Kurdish immigrants in two Western, liberal democracies with large Iraqi Kurdish communities, Norway and the UK, guided by the research question: How do variously positioned Iraqi Kurdish immigrants in Norway and the UK reflect upon and decide upon return migration? Secondly, a complementing analytic focus is on post-return realities and the socioeconomic reintegration process: How is return migration experienced by Iraqi Kurdish return migrants from Europe and the communities of non-migrants to which they return? Post-return reintegration is often conditioned on pre-return factors, such as the degree of volition in returning and the accumulation of financial, human and social capital. This will be explored empirically, mainly through interviews with returnees on their decisions to return post ex facto, but also by interviewing non-migrants, whose perspectives and experiences are too often neglected in migration research. In total, the main empirical basis of the doctoral research is expected to be at least 15 in-depth semi-structured interviews and four focus group discussions in Norway, the UK and Iraqi Kurdistan respectively, and additional interviews with non-migrants in the latter.