Zuzanna Olszewska

Though Afghan emigration results from sociopolitical circumstances (drought, changes in the system of government, wars) and from the economic structure (pastoralism, seasonal cycles of productive activities), it is part of a historical continuum of recurrent population movements in the region. Many Afghans, particularly Hazaras, have settled in Iran since the end of the 19th century. Their presence in the country intensified during the 1970s following the Iranian oil boom and the Afghan drought, but also following the political upheavals in Afghanistan since 1978. The Islamic Republic has adopted a changing and rather inconsistent policy to deal with these immigrants, and in a both popular and formal climate of xenophobia the country’s current objective is to repatriate them. Yet, the presence of Afghans on Iranian soil seems irreversible as it satisfies economic needs, reflects the intensity of commercial exchanges between the two countries, and constitutes a complex cross-border social reality. Lastly, the Afghan presence stokes a public and legal debate on how to define citizenship, while it appears to be inherent to the Iranian conception of its own nation.

Emmanuelle Le Texier

Since the early nineteen-eighties, the new political visibility of Latinos has been referred to as the awakening of a “sleeping giant.” Their increased political expression, be it in the form of protest action during civil rights movements or electoral participation, marks a turning point in the integration of Hispanics in the American public sphere. With a growing number of voters, candidates and elected officials, Latinos have emerged on the political scene. The increasingly influential role of pan-ethnic interest groups and new opportunities for political participation created by the development of transnational networks have contributed to the elaboration of this new participative framework. Yet their electoral and political influence remains below the demographic, economic, social and cultural importance of these some 35 million individuals who make up over 12 percent of the U.S. population. Most of the minority groups still encounter major obstacles to political access. These are partly structural, but also internal to the group: not only is it divided over domestic or foreign issues, it is fragmented by national origin, status and generation. The singular nature of immigration from Latin America, the continuity of migratory flows and their diversity, all constantly rekindle divergences over what strategy Latinos should adopt for participating in the public debate. They also highlight the fictional, both functional and dysfunction, nature of ethnic categorization in the United States. The ethnic card may be an instrument of participation, but it can also prove to seriously fetter minorities’ entry into politics.