Engendering migration, development and belonging: The experiences of recently arrived Afghans in Europe

What are the experiences of recently arrived Afghans in Europe and how is the understanding of home, belonging and the ‘self ‘shaped by gender? How does this understanding affect their capacity and willingness to engage with development in Afghanistan?


This project examines how gender shapes understandings of home, belonging and the self among recently arrived Afghan migrants in Europe. It explores the implications of these understandings for the capacity and willingness of Afghan migrants to engage with development in Afghanistan. The project expands on relationships between migration and development as seen in policy such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), considering also the hopes, desires and capacities of migrants.

A multi-disciplinary framework, drawing on theories of gender, self-identity, migration and development is used to analyse qualitative data on four important destinations for recently arrived Afghans: Denmark, Germany, the UK and Switzerland. The project has three objectives. First, the project examines how subjective and socio-cultural understandings of gender in their communities of origin and host countries shape young Afghans’ desires. Second, it investigates how policy affects these desires and how receiving societies perceive and incorporate recently arrived Afghan migrants. Third, the project examines the implications of gendered desires for Afghan migrants’ identities and their contributions as development actors.

The project will make four contributions to academic and policy discourses on migration and development, and the SDGs specifically. First, its gender focus on the specific backgrounds and reception conditions of recent Afghan migrants re-evaluates the assumptions of theory and practice of migration and development. Second, it specifies how gendered everyday experiences in Europe affect aspirations and capacities to contribute to Afghanistan. Third, it connects development of the ‘self’ with development of the ‘home country’. Finally, it refines the development contributions of migrants to countries with protracted conflict.


  • Migration
  • Refugees
  • Development
  • Gender
  • Integration
  • Self identity
  • Afghanistan


  • Anthropology
  • Development
  • Human rights
  • Law
  • Political science
  • Sociology


NGOs, States or other institutions

  • Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre (CRMC)
  • Danish Refugee Council Youth (DFUNK)
  • Refugee Support Network (RSN)
  • Swiss Refugee Council (OSAR)

Relevant Countries

  • Afghanistan
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland


This is an ongoing project, which started in autumn 2017. The information here is updated regularly. If you have any inquiries please don’t hesitate to contact the project team via the form below.

Contact the project team

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Research team

Carolin Fischer
Université de Neuchâtel

Janine Dahinden
Université de Neuchâtel

Esra Kaytaz
Principal Member
Coventry University

Mikkel Rytter
Principal Member
Aarhus Universitet

Narges Ghandchi
Principal Member
Aarhus University

Anna Wyss
Principal Member
Université de Neuchâtel

Emily Bowerman
Associated Member


Alessandro Monsutti
Institut de hautes Etudes internationales et du Développement – Graduate Institute Geneva

Hannah Elwyn
Associated Member

Nicholas Van Hear
Associated Member
University of Oxford

Lars Feldvoss
Associated Member

Sabir Zazai
Associated Member

Liza Schuster
Associated Member
University of London