Promised Soils : Senses of Place Among Yezidis in Dalarna and Sheikhan

Abstract: This is an ethnographic study that focuses on Zahmanê Êzîdîa Li Dalarna, the Yezidi cemetery, in Borlänge. The Swedish town of Borlänge has one of the largest Yezidi diaspora communities in Western Europe; a majority emigrated from the Northern Iraqi region of Sheikhan during the 1990s and early 2000s. The overall aim of this project is to investigate how the Yezidi community in Borlänge puts Zahmanê Êzîdîa Li Dalarna into use, the meanings ascribed to the site by individual interviewees, and how these relate to ritual places and practices in Sheikhan.The empirical material stems from observations and interviews among members of three extended Yezidi families in Borlänge and in Sheikhan, and archival material from the Church of Sweden. Fieldwork in Sheikhan focused on the valley of Lalish and the cemetery sites in the Yezidi villages in Sheikhan. The empirical material is presented, analysed and discussed through a theoretical framework of place, creation and maintenance of social memory through ritual practice, and the concept of transfer of ritual.The empirical material reveals that salient ritual actions and elements from ceremonies in Lalish and the Yezidi villages in Sheikhan are transferred to Borlänge, and there put into use for ritual practices and for creating and maintaining a collective identity outside of Iraq.