Clearinghouse Resource


The Iraqi Kurds: Their History and Culture


Robson, Barbara


Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) & The Refugee Service Center, U.S. Department of State

Source Information (Journal Title, Date, Length)

1996, 35 pages

Description of Resource

Provides a detailed introduction to the history and culture of Iraqi Kurds for community service providers and others assisting refugees in the United States. The Kurds have inhabited the Middle East from antiquity, primarily living in parts of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Armenia. Subsequent waves of Iraqi Kurds have been admitted to the U.S. starting in the mid-1970s and continuing through Saddam Hussein's campaigns of repression. Chapters describe (1) the geography and climate of the land occupied by Iraqi Kurds and its proximity to Iraqi oil fields; (2) the physical characteristics and traditional dress of Iraqi Kurds; (3) social structures, including the importance of family and local autonomy; (4) occupations and skills, including horsemanship and military service; (5) religion; (6) education and language; (7) history, including the accomplishments of the Kurd leader Saladin, the cultivation of literature and arts under the Ottoman Empire, and disenfranchisement and persecution in modern-day Iraq; (8) cultural differences that emerge in resettlement, including the Kurds' formality in contrast to American informality, ongoing rivalry between the two major Kurdish factions, attitudes toward authority, and restricted freedoms allowed Kurdish women; and (9) ways in which to make immigrant Kurds comfortable in American society.