This article explores the intersections between masculinity, migration and marital strategies through both a historical and ethnographic focus on the everyday lives of Turkmen men from Northern Afghanistan working in Turkey. While the economic rationales of migration (in response to war and poverty) have been studied previously, this is the first time the intertwined nature of the martial and migratory strategies of Afghan men have been examined in a diaspora context. This involves examining the connections between strategies of self-making as adult males through marriage and strategies of capital accumulation as migrant workers. Moreover, providing for one’s family, rather than the desire for individual fulfilment, is a key signifier of a caring and loving man and one of the many ways in which men in Afghanistan assert and perform their masculinity. The argument presented in this article seeks to go beyond the notion that young Turkmen men from Afghanistan are merely conservative in their attitudes to marriage in terms of compliance to parental choice of partners. Rather, it seeks to highlight the importance of the maintenance of social networks that require the upholding of moral and material obligations towards familial and kin elders to the livelihood strategies of these men. This argument integrates Afghan men (and especially Turkmen men) into wider discussions of patriarchy and family life in globalizing contexts rather than simply treating them as an exception to broader socio-economic trends.


Published online in december 2020, forthcoming in print 2021

Aziz Hakimi

Affiliated Senior Researcher