Reviews

This very descriptive and richly documented article shows how Hazaras, the third largest ethnic group in Afghanistan, have during the 1980S-90s set up very efficient migratory and economic networks, based on the lasting dispersion of members of kin groups between Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  (Wide networks of transfer of funds organised by Afghan—not only Hazara—refugees and migrants allow them to send their revenues back to Afghanistan, many trade activities being based on the system of the hawala [a way of money transfer, but also an instrument of credit].)  Transfers of funds show a very efficient tool for reproducing social ties despite the war and dispersion of members of each domestic and solidarity group.  This example of migratory and trading strategies of the Hazaras brings the author to call into question the explanatory primacy of kinship so common in anthropological literature on Middle Eastern and Central Asian societies.  The author notably stresses that the Persian dialect of the Hazaras has a very rich kinship terminology and its social use is very flexible.  There are multiple registers of solidarity, especially in the context of migration:  The networks set up by the Hazaras during their migrations and in a context of war rest more on a broad kinship, neighbourhood, and friendship than on lineages [224].  Through a wide range of concrete examples, the author identifies different types of protagonists of the hawala system: in Iran, the migrant worker (kargar) sending money to his family; in Afghanistan, the middleman (dallal) who is needed when the migrant and the hawala holder do not know each other; in Pakistan, a trader and money changer associated with a hawala holder.  In practice, all can be one and the same person, and if they are distinct, they are always close relatives.  The last paragraphs on the hawala system in general insist on its vital role in the modern-day economy of Afghanistan, and on the capacity shown by the Hazaras to mobilise cultural resources to open new horizons in a context of war and migration.

The Redaction
CER: I-7.4.B-633