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Afghan Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Sweden and the United States

This project examines how Afghan refugeehood and asylumhood in Sweden and the United States has been viewed within and contested and negotiated between state agencies, voluntary organizations, NGOs, international organizations, immigration lawyers, and by Afghans themselves in three contexts: the Cold War, the War on Terror, and the 2015 “refugee crisis”. It traces the changing patterns of Afghan asylum applications, refugee quotas, imposed restrictions, deportations, and theories justifying admission, restriction or deportation. The United States and Sweden are chosen for two reasons: First, because they are both major receiving countries when it comes to refugees and asylum seekers, and Afghans have been seeking refuge in both since the 1980s. Second, they are countries with different immigrant cultures and legal systems, and so offer a good contrast for examining how these differences impact the same national group of asylum seekers and refugees. The project challenges three widely held theses in the literature on the forced migration of Afghans. First, that Afghan refugees and asylum seekers were generally accepted as anti-communist freedom fighters during the 1980s, while being met with distrust following 9/11. Second, that restrictionist measures are dependent on large numbers of asylum seekers. And third, that there is always a link between the foreign policy preferences of a state and the groups which it favors in refugee and asylum seeker admissions. The project's leader is Admir Skodo.