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Study of the nationalist and religious character of children of Iranian Bahá'í and Shi'i emigrants in Turkey. The transplanted Bahá'í youth maintained a stronger sense of religious identity. (Offsite.)
Thesis for Masters of Science in Middle East Studies at Middle East Technical University, Ankara.

Purchase this thesis in its later published version at, or read it online at [PDF].

Children of Iranian Asylum-Seekers in Turkey:
Construction of National and Religious Identity

by Merve Calhan

Lambert Academic Publishing, 2011
originally published as "National and Religious Identities of Children of Iranian Asylum-Seekers in Kayseri".
date of original: 2008
Abstract: This thesis analyzes the construction of children of Iranian asylum-seekers’ national and religious identity who are dwelling in Kayseri provisionally. Identity construction of the children was based on a ‘flexible’ and ‘malleable’ ground in the research. The research was conducted through semi-structured, in-depth interviews with a selected group of participants. The participants belong to two different religious cohorts, Shi’is and Baha’is. Within the scope of the research question, national sentiment and religiosity of the children were investigated profoundly by taking into consideration of related identity theories. In addition, childhood experiences of the children were examined in order to find out if there is any interplay between childhood experiences and national and religious identities.

It was determined that ambit of a contested process of identities, national identity enunciated its vigour by far for all the participants. It was also ascertained that while for the Shi’i children, religious identity has reduced its strength; religious identity is still potent for the Baha’i children in the host society. Moreover, the children’s interrupted childhood results from their religious professions and their family’s political views reconstructed in Kayseri. The participants’ interrupted childhood in Iran achieved a relative maintenance in Kayseri without any fragmentation due to relative free environment comparing to Iran.

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