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The politics of migration, displacement and belonging among Afghans migrants and refugees in Europe and North America

The politics of migration, displacement and belonging among Afghans migrants and refugees in Europe and North America


Our research on Afghan experiences of displacement and migration focuses in the following issues: the politics of the migration, asylum and resettlement of Afghans in Europe and North America; Afghan journeys and migration into Europe and the engagement of recently arrived Afghans in Europe for peacebuilding and development in Afghanistan. We aim to examine the situate of the complex migration histories of Afghans who have recently migrated from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan within debates around the categorisation, intersectionality and development in migration.


Afghanistan has the second largest refugee population globally, around 2.7 million refugees according to UNHCR. Recent migration trends, eclipsed by the Syrian humanitarian crisis, point to two new trends: that increasingly more Afghans who had been living in Iran and Pakistan for many years, if not all their lives, are migrating out of the region. Secondly, Afghan middle classes are also leaving Afghanistan due to insecurity. In addition, the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan has both contributed to refugee movements and has created a crisis of internal displacement exacerbated by refugee returns and deportations.

Yet, Afghan migration, particularly the recent displacement and migration trends, is understudied. Our research on the histories, journeys and experiences of Afghans in Turkey and Greece thus addresses an important geographical gap in research on Afghan migration and contributes to migration policy in its conceptualisation on migrant journeys, migrant decision making processes and categorisation of different forms and migration and displacement that challenge dominant policy discourses. 

Based on this research, we are developing a research agenda that looks at the treatment of Afghans in Western countries and its consequences for development and peacebuilding in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is one of the least peaceful and developed nations in the world. We are interested understanding how, given their migration histories and reception conditions in Europe, view their relationship to Afghanistan and their prospects for contributing to bringing about peace and prosperity to the country. We aim to engage with European policies on Afghan asylum, migration and development.

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