The taste of freedom: commensality, liminality and return amongst Afghan transnational migrants in the UK and Pakistan

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Abstract

This study follows UK Afghan migrants on a return visit to Northwest Pakistan. Combining theorizations of mobility, liminality, and commensality, it takes the picnic trip ( little-explored cultural lens through which to analyse symbolic formations of freedom, the shaping of Pakhtun transnational labour, and social hierarchies constituted through migration and return. As potent imaginary sites of remembering and forgetting, arrived at, routes of flight and return, and the burden of multi-levelled constellations of political and economic insecurity on refugees living between the UK and Pakistan. The article argues thatchakar) as achakar map destinations left and not-yetchakar are at once therapeutic and reproductive of ways in which personal and systemic realities combine features of hierarchy, exploitation, and patriarchy. They sustain participants in a tension between desires to preserve the hierarchies they conceal, and desires for more freedom. These contradictory experiences are usefully analysed through the emblematic arc of the ‘round trip’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)466-485
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of The Royal Anthropological Institute
Volume20
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2014

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Pakistan
migrant
patriarchy
flight
refugee
exploitation
migration
labor
economics
experience

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title = "The taste of freedom: commensality, liminality and return amongst Afghan transnational migrants in the UK and Pakistan",
abstract = "This study follows UK Afghan migrants on a return visit to Northwest Pakistan. Combining theorizations of mobility, liminality, and commensality, it takes the picnic trip ( little-explored cultural lens through which to analyse symbolic formations of freedom, the shaping of Pakhtun transnational labour, and social hierarchies constituted through migration and return. As potent imaginary sites of remembering and forgetting, arrived at, routes of flight and return, and the burden of multi-levelled constellations of political and economic insecurity on refugees living between the UK and Pakistan. The article argues thatchakar) as achakar map destinations left and not-yetchakar are at once therapeutic and reproductive of ways in which personal and systemic realities combine features of hierarchy, exploitation, and patriarchy. They sustain participants in a tension between desires to preserve the hierarchies they conceal, and desires for more freedom. These contradictory experiences are usefully analysed through the emblematic arc of the ‘round trip’.",
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AB - This study follows UK Afghan migrants on a return visit to Northwest Pakistan. Combining theorizations of mobility, liminality, and commensality, it takes the picnic trip ( little-explored cultural lens through which to analyse symbolic formations of freedom, the shaping of Pakhtun transnational labour, and social hierarchies constituted through migration and return. As potent imaginary sites of remembering and forgetting, arrived at, routes of flight and return, and the burden of multi-levelled constellations of political and economic insecurity on refugees living between the UK and Pakistan. The article argues thatchakar) as achakar map destinations left and not-yetchakar are at once therapeutic and reproductive of ways in which personal and systemic realities combine features of hierarchy, exploitation, and patriarchy. They sustain participants in a tension between desires to preserve the hierarchies they conceal, and desires for more freedom. These contradictory experiences are usefully analysed through the emblematic arc of the ‘round trip’.

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