Chapter 31: The (in)visible hand of Muhajirat: a field observation on labour migration, social change and religion in the Vakhsh Valley, Tajikistan
In 2010, labour migration was believed to globally involve some 215 million people and to generate an estimated 440 billion dollars of remittances, of which 325 billion went to so-called developing countries.1 By comparison, global Official Development Assistance (ODA) that same year amounted to 154.4 billion dollars. While the impact of both labour migration and remittances on economic development and on society in the migrants’ countries of origin are well documented, their influence on religion and its evolution remain comparatively under-exposed. This is especially the case when it comes to countries and societies in the former Soviet Union (Eurasia), where labour migration, within as well as outside the region, became a major economic and social dynamic over the last one and half decades. Tajikistan, a majority Muslim country in Southern Eurasia with which the author, having lived and worked there for a while, is personally familiar, offers an interesting case in this regard. According to official-based international organization data, in 2009, 11.8 per cent of its total official population of 7.53 million was involved in one way or another in labour migration. This does not put it ahead of all of the region’s societies.
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