The Merchant Networks of Afghan Sikhs: The Cold War, its Legacies and Beyond


  • Magnus Marsden University of Sussex



Afghanistan, migration, trade networks, commerce, London


This article documents the migration of Afghanistan’s Sikh communities to Asia and Europe during the Cold War and its aftermath. It analyses these migratory trajectories both in the context of conflict in Afghanistan and the refugee flows it created as well as in relation to the long-term role of Afghan Sikhs in transregional trade. The article argues that exploring Sikh migration from Afghanistan through the twin analytical lenses of trade networks and the Cold War helps to illuminate a more complex range of identities and experiences than allowed for by a singular focus on their status as either ‘refugees’ or migrants from ‘the Global South’.

Author Biography

Magnus Marsden, University of Sussex

MAGNUS MARSDEN is Professor of Social Anthropology and Director of the Sussex Asia Centre at the University of Sussex, UK. His research interests focus on Islam, trade and commerce, mobility, diaspora and borders in Afghanistan and various transregional contexts across South, Central and West Asia.


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