The US State Department has issued twenty-six thousand special immigrant visas (SIV) to Afghan translators, guards, embassy staff, and their dependents since 2009. The case of Afghan SIV recipients is unique because of the overlapping ways that precarity has doubly characterized the Afghan experience in both Afghanistan and the US. Work for the defense contracting industry in Afghanistan was dangerous and temporary. Now refugees struggle for stability in the gig economy, many while driving for Uber and Lyft. This article explores how Afghans conceptualize this precarity through stories about their work in Afghanistan and the US. Occupational identity and work have been foundational to core theorizations of personal narrative. This article uses the stories of precarious workers to interrogate the centrality of work identity in folkloristic theories of personal narrative. Additionally, this article uses the experiences of Afghan refugees to suggest what a more critical engagement with precarity offers folklore studies of work.


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pp. 53-75
Launched on MUSE
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