Remembering the Past in Diasporic Spaces: Kurdish Reflections on Genocide Memorialization for Anfal

Mari Toivanen, Bahar Baser

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Diasporas engage in a variety of practices and activities to commemorate past massacres and genocides that might have led to the formation of the diaspora in the first place. In this process, certain massacres can become constructed as the “chosen trauma” and consequently a central element in commemoration practices and identity formation. In this paper, we discuss genocide memorialisation in the context of the Iraqi Kurdish diaspora in Europe. We specifically focus on genocide memorialisation of the Anfal Campaign (1986-1989) that were orchestrated by Saddam Hussein’s regime against the Kurdish population in Northern Iraq. We examine how collective remembering for Anfal takes place in the diasporic space, what diasporic articulations and representations of Anfal as the “chosen trauma” are produced in commemoration practices and how these genocide memorialisation processes differ from those in the homeland context. How are commemoration practices by the Kurdish diaspora communities in Europe organised and narrated upon? How do they relate to collective memory and identity? What spatial and generational dynamics are at play in these processes?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-33
Number of pages24
JournalGenocide Studies International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2019


  • Genocide
  • Memory
  • Diaspora
  • Identity
  • Anfal
  • Kurdish

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