A moving heart: querying a singular problem of 'immobility' in Afghan migration to the UK

Nichola Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article offers a single case study of everyday suffering (‘khapgan’—Pakhto; ‘feeling down’) experienced by one Afghan migrant in the UK, ‘Zmarai’. Single cases may destabilise categories of the ‘political’ as conventionally institutionalized in relation to Afghan migrants according to such concepts as diaspora, citizenship, refugees, trauma and culture etc. Drawing theorisations of the way affects are key to a political economy’s analysis of migrant labour (‘a moving heart’), the study moves away from political or psychological categories centred on the trauma of war and displacement, towards the unfulfilled promises of progress and liberty experienced less ‘exceptionally’ within the family economy under transnational migration. This points to the salience of hope, and its loss, in the ways individuals assume, challenge and reshape their load of cultural control and economic obligations—and raises questions around the problem of what, in a field of multiple interrelated mobilities, appears not to move.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)518-534
Number of pages17
JournalMedical Anthropology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2013


  • affect
  • Pakhtuns
  • remittance economy
  • subjectivity
  • trauma


Dive into the research topics of 'A moving heart: querying a singular problem of 'immobility' in Afghan migration to the UK'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this