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Persian Pride and Prejudice: Identity Maintenance and Interest Calculations among Iranians in the United Arab Emirates

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/06/2020
<mark>Journal</mark> International Migration Review
Issue number2
Number of pages31
Pages (from-to)496-526
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date10/09/19
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Given the ongoing tensions between Iran and the Gulf States, it is odd that Persian speakers, and Iranians in particular, living in the Gulf’s Arab States have received so little scholarly attention. Based on extensive fieldwork in both the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Iran, this article examines conceptualizations of identity and interests within Iranian communities in the UAE. In building an understanding of the diversity of Iranians, while highlighting commonalities across their diverse spectrum, it paints a complex picture of people trapped between pride in their identity and the prejudice they face because of that identity. The article develops the concept of identity maintenance as a key tool, placing this approach within wider calculations of interests and hedging processes embarked on by Iranians within an environment that increasingly securitizes Iranian identity. The case both enriches our understanding of the mosaic of migration in the Gulf and highlights key drivers within processes of identity maintenance. These processes represent a logical outcome of the context of precarity and suspicion that pertains in the UAE, making identity maintenance both similar to and considerably different from more typical migration environments in the West.