© 2016

Return Migration to Afghanistan

Moving Back or Moving Forward?

  • Provides a significant contribution to studies of return migration

  • Informs the debate on the EU response to the refugee crisis

  • Demonstrates that the relationship between migration and development is too complex for easy generalizations


Part of the Migration, Diasporas and Citizenship book series (MDC)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Marieke van Houte
    Pages 1-38
  3. Marieke van Houte
    Pages 39-67
  4. Marieke van Houte
    Pages 69-93
  5. Marieke van Houte
    Pages 95-117
  6. Marieke van Houte
    Pages 119-144
  7. Marieke van Houte
    Pages 145-174
  8. Marieke van Houte
    Pages 175-193
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 195-237

About this book


This book overcomes the dichotomies, generalizations and empirical shortcomings that surround the understanding of return migration within the migration–development–peace-building nexus. Using the concept of multidimensional embeddedness, it provides an encompassing view of returnees’ identification with and participation in one or multiple spaces of belonging. It introduces Afghan return migration from Europe as a relevant case study, since the country’s protracted history of conflict and migration shows how the globally changing political discourses of recent decades have shaped migration strategies. The author’s findings highlight the fact that policy is responding inadequately to complex issues of migration, conflict, development and return, since the expectations on which it is based only account for a small minority of returnees. This thought-provoking book will appeal to scholars of migration and refugee studies, as well as a wider audience of sociologists, anthropologists, demographers and policy makers. 


Globalization Mobility Immobility Voluntary Involuntary Europe Human dynamics Belonging

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.International Migration Institute Department of International DevelopmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordUnited Kingdom

About the authors

Marieke van Houte is Marie Curie Research Fellow at the International Migration Institute, University of Oxford, UK. 

Bibliographic information


“In the midst of a global refugee crisis, it is important not to lose sight of solutions. This book interrogates the assumption that return is the optimum solution for refugees and their countries of origin; and identifies specific recommendations for making return work. It is one of the most clear-eyed books on refugees in recent years.” (Khalid Koser, Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund, Switzerland)

 “In this highly innovative study based on the case of Afghan return migration, Van Houte makes a compelling case for a fundamental rethinking of popular, but deeply flawed ideas and policies around return migration and development. Her analysis convincingly undermines the idea that involuntary returnees can be agents for development in origin countries. It reveals that return migration can only benefit development if such returns are voluntary.” (Hein de Haas, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

 “Through a compelling empirical and conceptual study, Marieke van Houte examines the contribution return migrants can make to development and peace building in areas of conflict. She deftly questions any clear distinction between forced and voluntary return and provides an important contribution to our knowledge of both Afghanistan and to our broader understanding of migration in conflict situations.” (Ronald Skeldon, University of Sussex, UK, and Maastricht University, the Netherlands)