Gender, Mobility and Self: Afghan Women in Vancouver, British Columbia
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In this study of Afghan women and the relationship of identity to gendered mobility, I found that the Afghan women in this study were affected by prevailing ideologies which recognized them as refugees no matter how long they had lived in Canada. In this dissertation, I assert that the category of refugee haunts discussions of class, the creation and continuation of a sewing cooperative, and veiling--so much so that in each category, the gendered role of Afghan refugee woman is not only attached to these Afghan women but they must also reinscribe it repeatedly in order to receive services and participate in other community activities and structures. That reinscription becomes a part of a process in which--as part of an avowedly multicultural metropolis and country--they must by definition remain Other in order to belong. There must be the multiplicity of cultural identities in order to sustain the contemporary Canadian multicultural identity. The processual nature of identity articulated by Malkki and Kondo could be lost in this static counterpoint, but the women in this study find ways of using combinations of strategic essentialism and resistance to articulate their own identities through practice. Perhaps more significant, they may have sustained their own power to define themselves by carving out spaces both real and metaphorical in which they define themselves in relation to acts of living which reconfirmed their own identities rooted in values which exemplify Afganiyat (Afghanness), Insaniyat (humanness), and the concept of Mardom-dari.