​Refugee Cities

​By Dr Sanaa Alimi​a

Dr. Alimia's work examines the Indian Ocean world through the prism of mobility, borders, urbanity, and governance technologies.  She has published journalistic writings, policy papers and books on these topics, and has also been awarded research funding to explore the issues further, some of which are shown below.​

Digital Borders, Bodies, and Mobility in South Asia

In 2021, Dr. Alimia was awarded a BA/ Leverhulme Small grant for a research project titled "Digital Borders, Bodies, and Mobility in South Asia".  The project explores how, since the 2000s, biometric and computerised national identity cards and their accompanying databases, have been introduced to facilitate forms of social, political, and physical exclusion, especially on non-citizens and minorities, which reflect an ongoing process of border-making in the region that is increasingly being enacted through stricter migration controls.

Refugee Cities: How Afghans Changed Urban Pakistan

The book provides a necessary glimpse of what ordinary life looks like for a long-term refugee population, beyond the headlines of war, terror, or helpless suffering.  It also increases the understanding of how cities - rather than the nation - are important sites of identity-making for people of migrant origins. In Pakistan, formal citizenship is almost impossible for Afghans to access; despite this, Afghans have made new neighbourhoods, expanded city boundaries, built cities through their labour in construction projects, and created new urban identities - and often they have done so alongside Pakistanis.  Their struggles are a crucial, neglected dimension of Pakistan urban history. 

The book documents the multiple displacements of migrants and how they are subject to the increased mormalisation of deportation as a part of 'refugee management'. 

Alimia, S. (2022). Refugee Cities: How Afghans Changed Urban Pakistan. University of Pennsylvania Press.​