Black-Iraqis: From a Forgotten History to Contemporary Racial Discrimination (77270)

Session Information: Immigration, Refugee, Race, Nation
Session Chair: Mark Beeman

Monday, 27 May 2024 12:20
Session: Session 2
Room: Room D (Live-Stream)
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation

All presentation times are UTC + 9 (Asia/Tokyo)

In the annals of history, the Arab Slave Trade, which dates to the 5th century, has languished in the shadows, earning it the title “the forgotten slave trade” (Koigi, 2019). During the Abbasid Caliphate (750–1258 AD), Iraq served as the epicentre of the Arab Slave Trade and Basra as a pivotal port for importing enslaved Africans. In the present day, the legacy of this sombre past continues to affect approximately 1.5 million Black-Iraqis. This paper examines the understudied impact of the Arabs Slave Trade on the relationship of race and racism in the Middle East. Despite a growing body of literature on the history of the Transatlantic Slave Trade on contemporary racism, scholars largely neglect the ramifications of the Arab Slave Trade on Black-Arabs. The study uses original qualitative data collected from 20 Black-Iraqis interviews and a lay expert to examine whether Iraq’s anti-discrimination policies, under its 2005 Constitution, protect the rights of Black communities. Through the social constructivist approach, the paper explores the lived experience of Black Iraqis, as well as cultural narratives of exclusion and belonging. Developing upon Du Bois (1929), it contextualizes race in relation to Arabism and Sectarianism to research racism in Iraq through anti-blackness as a distinct “colour-line”. However, the study of structural racism in a failed-state creates obstacles in outlining linear differential treatment between Black-Iraqis and other minority groups. This research calls for the expansive investigation of race and the application of specific contextual histories when examining contemporary racism.

Sara Al Khashlok, London School of Economics, United Kingdom

About the Presenter(s)
Sara Al Khashlok is a Researcher at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law. During her time at London School of Economics, she produced research navigating the intersection of identity, race and policy in the Middle East.

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Posted by Clive Staples Lewis

Last updated: 2023-02-23 23:45:00