A faith that binds: Iraqi Christian women on the domestic service ladder of Istanbul

Danis D.

JOURNAL OF ETHNIC AND MIGRATION STUDIES, vol.33, no.4, pp.601-615, 2007 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 33 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2007
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/13691830701265453
  • Page Numbers: pp.601-615
  • Keywords: religious networks, niche formation, domestic labour, gender relations, Iraqi migrants, Istanbul, INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION


Most studies on migrant networks and ethnic niches focus on the countries of final settlement. In this article, I approach the subject from a different angle and present the case of a transit migrant group, namely Iraqi Christians in Istanbul, and the emergence of a specific occupational niche within the domestic service sector. Recently there has been an increase in the number of foreign migrant women participating in the domestic work sector in Istanbul. Iraqi Christian women have carved out a separate niche within the domestic work hierarchy in Istanbul, using religious leaders as intermediaries. Employment in this sector also creates challenges to the traditional gender roles of Iraqi women. These challenges to gender relations are mitigated, however, by the perception of their situation as temporary, deriving from the fact that they are only in the transit phase of the migration process.