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About this presentation

This paper investigates why Afghans in the wider diaspora take action in certain ways. It builds on the analysis of transnational activities and different ‘spheres of engagement’ (Van Hear 2015). With the help of qualitative data obtained through in-depth interviews and participant observation I first explain how informants come to direct their activities towards certain spheres of engagement and how these engagements implicate ideas of change. In a further step I use my findings to discuss the notion of diasporas as agents of change. I show how relational sociology helps to specify the structuring effects of the social context of my informants. In particular, I identify enabling and constraining structures and explore how informants exercise agency and creatively use available resources by taking action in one or several spheres of engagement. The relational approach disentangles the effects and variabilities of multi-layered structures and thus develops a more precise understanding of why people engage with their home countries in certain ways and what forms of agency are involved if people take action.

About the series

This presentation is part of the 2016 IMI Hilary Term seminar series, which seeks to interrogate the relationship between migration, politics and political change. The series offers a wide range of (inter)disciplinary, methodological and theoretical approaches to the study of the processes and outcomes that link migration, emigrants and immigrants with politics and political change.

The series seeks to discuss both how political actors govern migrants’ actions and movements ‘from above’, through policies and resources, and how migrants may shape politics ‘from below’, and can be grassroots ‘agents of change’.

Key themes highlighted in this collection of seminars include research on diasporas, transnational engagement, im/migrant politics in origin and receiving countries and political change, and the implications of migration as manifestation of social transformation.

The seminar series is organised and coordinated by IMI postdoctoral fellows Dr. Marieke Van Houte and Dr. Ali R. Chaudhary who are currently working on TRANSMIC, a Marie Curie-funded project, which explores the topic of migration, politics and political change.

Download the seminar series poster


Duration: 39:57

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