Asylum seekers/patron seekers: Interpreting Iraqi Kurdish migration

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6 Scopus citations


This article examines the phenomenon of Iraqi Kurdish out-migration to the West between 1991 and 2003. It argues that migrants looked to the West and Westerners as potential patrons and were incited to migrate by their conceptualizations of patronage and clientage roles. Iraqi Kurdish migrants to the West constituted one of the largest flows of asylum-seeking clandestine migrants in the world by the late 1990s. European governments first accepted their asylum claims as "legitimate," but later accused the migrants of being a "problem" and ceased granting asylum to most applicants. This article demonstrates how participants in the Iraqi Kurdish body politic posture themselves as clients and formulate the ideal roles of patrons in the migration process based on prior experience as clients of the state, tribal leaders, and other figures. Patronage and clientage roles provide both an interpretive frame and a motivator for the act of migrating.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-326
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Organization
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2005


  • Clientage
  • Iraq
  • Kurds
  • Migration
  • Patronage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences


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