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Accepted Paper:

The 'self-making projects' of recently arrived Afghans in the UK, Switzerland and Germany  
Esra Kaytaz (Coventry University) Carolin Fischer (University of Bern)

Paper short abstract:

In our analysis of the 'self-making projects' of recently arrived Afghan asylum-seekers and refugees in the UK, Germany and Switzerland we demonstrate the affective and ethical dimensions of inclusion and integration.

Paper long abstract:

This article explores the self-making projects of recently arrived Afghan asylum-seekers and refugees in the UK, Germany and Switzerland. We define 'self-making projects' as what our participants want in their lives for themselves, families or persons they care for and the ways in which they pursue these hopes and aspirations. Research on what constitutes self-making in migration is often subsumed under processes of negotiating legal status and their engagements with formal integration processes. While recognising the structural impositions of these policies in framing self-making, we draw on the ethical turn in anthropology as our theoretical grounding for the understanding of self-making beyond migratory trajectories and legal positioning in host societies. Our participants' accounts of their 'self-making projects' illustrated the affective demands of participating in integration in host societies. Service providers' expectations of participants and the bureaucratic requirements of reception systems often collided with participants' moral responsibilities such as supporting family members and broader ethical projects of becoming. Participants were often advised to 'lower their expectations' upon discovering that their previous qualifications and work experience were not transferrable to host countries. Inclusion and integration thus emerged as reflexive and ethical processes whereby participants were expected to make adjustments in their attitudes and beliefs towards their aspirations and hopes of their lives in host societies and relationships with members of their communities afar. These restrictive demands were countered with affective dispositions such as 'confidence', 'belief' and 'strength'.

Panel Irre06a
Refusing to fail: hope/aspiration as labour I
  Session 1 Thursday 1 April, 2021, -