Tracing change: On the positionality of traditionally mobile groups in Kabul’s camps

Release date: 2016-11

This article explores the positionalities of two traditionally mobile groups of people in Afghanistan, former pastoralists and peripatetics, who are currently living in several urban camps in Kabul. Starting from the assumption of their immobilization in-between places, the research shows their current self-positioning in the process of seeking belonging can be traced in locality-generating practices. At the same time, both groups are subject to context-producing effects through external events and forces linked not only to government (non-)policies but also to the global war on terror and exposure to neoliberal capitalism. The incapacity of the state to meet camp dwellers’ expectations to provide shelter and income opportunities exacerbates their social im­mobility, which is both a cause for and effect of forced spatial immobilization. In light of the tension between efforts to belong and the increasing cementation of the status quo, the locality-generating practices of camp residents in Kabul reveal ambivalence.

Internationales Asienforum/ International Quarterly for Asian Studies, 47(3-4), 245-271.