The Painful Return

Prisoners of War and Society in Iraq, 1988–2007

in Anthropology of the Middle East
Ronen Zeidel University of Haifa

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This is the first study of Iraqi POWs (prisoners of war) of the Iran-Iraq War and their relations with Iraqi society when they were absent and upon their return. The most significant factor affecting those relations was the exceptionally long duration of imprisonment: 8 to 10 years on average. By using novels and memoirs written by the prisoners reflecting on their prison experience, this article will try to unravel how Iraqi POWs perceived their ordeal and how they were influenced by dominant social values. Societal attitudes are also analysed through novels and short stories by some of Iraq's leading authors, in which the returning POW is the main subject.

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