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In search of a caring state: migrations of Afghans from Iran to Germany

Lenehan, Sara (2022) In search of a caring state: migrations of Afghans from Iran to Germany. Critique of Anthropology, 42 (3). pp. 238-253. ISSN 0308-275X

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0308275X221120170


When Afghans began fleeing war in the 1980s, the Iranian state welcomed them on an ethical premise of care towards fellow Muslims. However, since the 1990s, Iran has pursued exclusionary policies towards their Afghan population. Drawing on fieldwork among Afghan asylum-seekers who arrived in Germany from Iran, this article shows how fantasies of alternative social contracts can motivate migration, and shape relationships with host states in the aftermath. Afghan migrants hoped to ‘opt in’ to a relationship with the German state, which they imagined as more ‘caring’ than the Iranian one. However, in Germany, they were granted limited rights, and only after substantial conditions were fulfilled. Afghans’ interpretations of these outcomes reveal fears and assumptions around state–citizen relations, which they had carried over from Iran, and which informed their reimagination of the German state post-migration.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2022.
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2022 11:30
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2022 10:33

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