Maliheh Bayat Tork, M.A.

Maliheh Bayat Tork is Ph.D candidate and academic research assistant at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the Georg August University of Göttingen in the BMBF research project “On the Materiality of (Forced) Migration. From ‘bare necessities’ to ‘promising things'”, under the direction of Prof. Dr. Andrea Lauser.

Previously, she was a humanitarian and social worker in Iran. Either personally or in cooperation with humanitarian agencies she dedicated much effort to make a difference in the life of refugees there. Interested in the issue of migration and stimulated by the question of illegal border crossings of refugees from Iran towards Europe and especially Germany, she completed an internship in Friedland camp as a voluntary social worker.

Simultaneously, she conducted interviews together with the team of the project ‘Zur Materialität von Flucht und Migration’. She formally joined the project in June 2019 and under the supervision of Pr.Dr. Lauser developed a Ph.D. research project entitled: “Exilic Materiality: Forced-Migrants Interacting with Humanitarian Materiality in Refugee Camps in Iran and Germany”. Maliheh’s research project will inquire into this question of forced-migration through an ethnographic lens on humanitarian materiality. This project will provide an understanding of the interactions and perceptions related to humanitarian assistance. The study will focus on humanitarian assistance which is provided to forced migrants by the EU-humanitarian aid agencies in Iran as well as in Germany. Considering humanitarian relief as part of the materiality of (forced-) migration, this research project questions and compares the sustainability and effectiveness of humanitarian efforts from an anthropological perspective. Specifically, it focuses on how Afghan forced-migrants interact with relief items and spaces they are provided with by humanitarian agencies in Mashhad City in Iran and the Friedland camp in Germany, representing respectively the first destination after leaving Afghanistan and an important reception centre for refugees and asylum seekers arriving in Germany. The research aims to provide an in-depth analysis of the interconnectedness between enforced exile and enforced materiality and to explore the consequences for grantees and humanitarian agencies in the respective context.

The Ph.D. research will be a contribution to a more comprehensive understanding of the impacts of humanitarian assistance in the lives and also integration of forced Afghan migrants by researching two settings that have not been systematically compared so far. With participation in StadtLabor Göttingen’s workshops in 2019, membership of Seebrücke-Göttingen and cooperation with the Museum Friedland, Maliheh is also civically engaged in the question of forced migration.