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"The role of corruption in reintegration: experiences of Iraqi Kurds upon return from Europe"

Erlend Paasche

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 42 (7), 2016

This article examines how corruption affects reintegration. The literature on return and reintegration shows that return migrants often struggle to adjust and adapt to life in their place of origin because that environment can be very different from what they grew accustomed to abroad. One stark difference is the prevalence and meaning of corruption. In many sending countries that migrants come from and then return to, corruption is endemic. By contrast, in many receiving countries that migrants go to and return from, it is incidental. Yet, we know little about how the discrepancy affects reintegration. This study examines how corruption affects the psychosocial and economic reintegration of Iraqi Kurds returning to Iraqi Kurdistan from Norway and the United Kingdom. Interviews with returnees reveal that they consider corruption a major challenge for their own reintegration. Psychosocially, it alienates them from the ideology of the Kurdish nation-building project, challenges their identities, undermines a sense of belonging and creates insecurity. Economically, it shapes economic behaviour and outcomes by obstructing entrepreneurship, producing relative deprivation and conditioning their employability.

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