Second phase of German-Kurdish research project coming to an end

The joint six-month project “Eternal War? Long-Term Socioeconomic Consequences of the War in the Province of Halabja” of the Felsberg Institute for Education and Research (FIBW) and the University of Halabja and the University of Halabja from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq is rapidly coming to an end. During a second data collection phase, indirect socio-economic long-term consequences of war in Halabja province were investigated using semi-standardized interviews among household members.

Under the leadership of Silvia Nicola, from the FIBW, a detailed questionnaire was compiled with more than 120 questions divided into several categories such as health, housing and infrastructure, income or agriculture. Two teams of two scientists each, a female and a male researcher from Halabja together with a third German-Kurdish team have divided the city of Halabja into zones to interview a total of 50 households. The households were chosen at random. The interviews took about 1.5 hours per household. In addition to answering the standardized questions, the household members were able to describe and contextualize their own experiences of war.

In addition to the household interviews, Silvia Nicola has conducted additional interviews with representatives of authorities or interest groups, such as the governor of Halabja, Mr Azad Tofiq, the mayor of Halabja, Mrs Nukhsha Nasih, various NGO leaders or farmers. These background discussions serve in particular to better understand the political and social framework of the study.

The project is now in the data evaluation phase. Over the next two months, a first version of the final report will be drafted, as well as several international joint publications prepared by scientists based in Iraqi Kurdistan and Germany. 

First phase of the German-Kurdish research project successfully completed

In March 2019, the Felsberg Institute for Education and Academic Research (FIBW) started a first German-Kurdish research project titled "Eternal War? Long-term socioeconomic consequences of the war in the province of Halabja" together with the University of Halabja from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Over a period of six months, indirect long-term socio-economic consequences of war in the province of Halabja will be explored in two phases.

The FIBW research associate, Silvia Nicola, has developed together with five colleagues from the University of Halabja, the necessary tools to conduct a scientific survey in the first phase of this project. In a first step, the survey was conducted among the students of the University of Halabja with the aim of gathering data on their socio-economic situation and the brain drain risks posed by political and/or armed conflicts.

The same set of questions was also given to a smaller group of students from the University of Sulaymanyia in order to better identify specific local trends. In total, 350 undergraduate students from six departments and all enrollment years (law, English, history, social sciences, physics and sports science) have participated in the survey.

First results of this data collection phase have already been presented at the 3rd International Conference on Kurdish Studies in London. After the London conference, Ms. Silvia Nicola, the FIBW researcher, will return to Halabja for the second data collection phase. The focus will lay this time on semi-standardized interviews with household members from Halabja.

This cooperation is part of a more complex research project, which was initiated by Prof. Dr. Polla Khanaqa, the director of the Kurdistan Institution for Strategic Studies and Scientific Research (KISSR). This first project sequence was supported by Dr.  Yousif Goran, the KRG Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

Remaking Sociality – Eritreans on the Move

Inspired by recent anthropological debates on sociality and on connectivity - namely on the conceptual relevance of multi-scalar and trans-local interaction in the field of transnational migration - our project “Remaking Sociality” aims at investigating newly emerging connectivities and changing visions of sociality characterizing ongoing mass migration from Eritrea. We doubt that cultural frames of social relations are simply re-established elsewhere, but expect that globally interconnected dynamics - the global migration regime, national politics and transnational relations - decisively affect broader social, moral and emotional spheres as much as interpersonal relationships.Narratives of belonging, notions of morality and webs of meanings play a key role in the remaking of socialityin Eritrean migration, where old and new social cleavages along political, ethnic and generational lines have become increasingly influential. In a transnationally outstretched, but fragmentary and uncertain moral economy, Eritreans apparently refer back to transmitted social traditions of the Eritrean pre-independence era in order to invoke stability, reliability, and cultural truth. While being Eritrean is still meaningful and moral obligations such as unity and solidarity, still shape the self-representation of migrants and their social praxis (i.e. reciprocal help at family, ethnic and national level), processes of re-ethnicization and regionalization are opening new scenarios that we intend to investigate. 

Our diachronic and multi-sited research aims at an original understanding of the transformation of social dynamics and boundaries in transnational migration, beyond static perspectives on nation or diaspora and beyond presentist immediacy. “Remaking sociality” is built upon a preliminary interview study on Eritrean refugees in different countries of transit and provisional arrival, initiated by the Felsberg Institute and directed by M. Treiber and H. Quehl. Simultaneous field research (Oct-Nov 2016) was conducted by six researchers (including A. Massa) in six countries (Ethiopia, Sudan, Libya, Israel, Italy and Germany), which are essential steps along the Eritrean migratory routes to Germany. Our respective research proposal is currently under review.