Anthropology / Everything Human

Being Afghan in America: In the Field With Morwari Zafar

Being Afghan in America: In the Field With Morwari Zafar

The U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan has had surprising effects on Afghan-American communities, especially in enclaves like Fremont, California.

How does an immigrant become an “American”? How does any newcomer join any group? SAPIENS host Esteban Gómez shares the story of Morwari Zafar, an anthropologist who has studied post-9/11 changes in her community of Afghan-Americans in Fremont, California, and in other Afghan-American groups in the U.S. From the first major wave of immigration in the late 1980s and early 1990s, to 9/11 and the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Afghan-American communities have been in flux, exemplifying the mysteries of group identity, dynamics among the diaspora, and nationhood.

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Zafar recently completed a Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Oxford in the U.K. Her dissertation is titled COIN-Operated Anthropology: Cultural Knowledge, American Counterinsurgency, and the Rise of the Afghan Diaspora. She is now a managing partner at The Sentient Group, a consulting company focused on the international development, national security, and private sectors.

Read more at SAPIENS:

This episode of SAPIENS was produced by Paul Karolyi, edited by Matthew Simonson, and hosted by Esteban Gómez.

SAPIENS producer Arielle Milkman, executive producer Cat Jaffee, and House of Pod intern Lucy Soucek provided additional support. Fact-checking is by Christine Weeber, illustration is by David Williams, and all music is composed and produced by Matthew Simonson.

SAPIENS is part of the American Anthropological Association Podcast Library.

This is an editorially independent podcast funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation and produced by House of Pod.

Read a transcript of this episode here.

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