My project focuses on care negotiations of Afghan foreign fighters in Iran, examining the deep entanglements of mobility, militancy and care in the Middle East. Wars and conflicts in the Middle East have not only compelled millions into forced displacement, they have also led many to live through and take part in multiple conflicts across borders and over their life course. The Afghans I worked with in 2015–2016 and summer of 2019 were war refugees, undocumented and asylum seekers, who returned to Iranian soil after fighting and getting injured in regional conflicts. Struggles of Afghan ex-combatants to claim disability benefit and demand social inclusion constitute the core of my ethnography. Grounded in local histories of suffering and trans-border affinities, these struggles are informed by ideologies and practices of kinship, weaving together seemingly distinct spheres of state and kinship.
Analysing dynamics of care negotiations in Iran, as a host to one of the largest number of world’s displaced populations, this project sheds new light on overlooked techniques and practices of relatedness in transitional spaces, argues for possibilities of belonging that war enables, as well as discussing state and non-citizen relations within a framework other than rights-based universal discourse of humanitarianism.