M1 "Spaces of refuge"

M1.1 "Spaces of refuge"

Ingeborg Baldauf

The work package M1 “Spaces of refuge” is located on the interface between conflict and migration. It examines how the construction of spaces of memory and coping operates in discourses and narratives. Such definitions of space derive their potential for political controversy from their questioning of state organization of spaces, including political borders.

M1.2 "Narratives of Flight, Networks of Migration and Spaces of Refugee - (Forced) Migration in present-day Afghanistan

Christoph Wenzel

Keywords: Afghanistan, Migration & Flight, Urbanization, Networks, Youth, Geography, Cultural Geography

Crossroads Asia is an area with many social changes and multiple insecurities. In this environment cities are attractive “Places of Refuge” for the people. Especially in present-day Afghanistan the urban population is growing very fast. According to vague assessments half of the country’s population is living in cities today. This has many reasons: migration from rural areas because of climate disasters or high unemployment, flight from ongoing fights or conflicts, voluntary or forced return from exile in the neighboring countries or other parts of the world, the city’s offerings of education opportunities and “modern” infrastructure, …

Mobility and migration have a long tradition in this region that is characterized by significant regional differences. Work migration, trade and nomadic forms of life are traditionally important sources of income and socio-cultural exchange. The decades of wars and conflicts in Afghanistan caused flight and displacement of large parts of the population. For this reasons experiences of migration and ongoing mobility are quite ‘common’ for the present-day Afghan society. This complex situation challenges established concepts like ‘migrant’, ‘refugee’ or ‘returnee’.

To approach to the meanings, functions and effects of mobility and migration in contemporary Afghanistan a concrete place is going to be studied in this research project. This place will be the city of Mazar-i Sharif in Northern Afghanistan that is the destination of various migrations.

The importance of mobility for the people will be traced on the basis of migration stories and experiences of young Afghan men. Their migration strategies and networks will point out the principles of cooperation in the present Afghan society. The investigation of young men’s everyday cultural expressions and geographical practices will help to measure the self-perception of the migrants as well as the perception of this growing city from different points of view.