African migration at the fringes of Europe: Migration strategies and transnational social networks

Marieke Wissink, Maastricht University

This paper investigates how choices for migration strategies of irregular African migrants in Turkey and Greece are associated with their transnational social networks (TSN). Irregular migration processes are often characterized by sequences of various migration strategies (e.g. filing an asylum application followed by unauthorized border-crossings), rather than by straightforward moves from one country to another. Migration and border control policies at the fringes of Europe largely affect migration routes and flows. Yet, in order to understand how individuals react upon these and adapt migration strategies, this paper offers a micro-level perspective focusing on the nature and role of migrants’ TSN.

A wealth of literature shows how through the circulation of resources TSN largely impact on opportunities for migrants to enact migration strategies. Yet, there is little attention for the variety and transient nature of TSN. This paper argues that TSN should not be taken as a homogenous actor in the migration process, and illuminates that untangling the composition and structure of TSN is crucial to understand the various ways in which they play a role during processes of irregular migration. Building on social network and ethnographic data collected among irregular African migrants in Istanbul and Athens, the paper shows that the density and geographical focus of migrants’ TSN correspond and coevolve with available and preferred migration strategies.

About the speaker
Marieke Wissink is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Maastricht University. Her PhD is entitled “Migration Strategies in Transit: the Role of Transnational Social Relationships and ICTs”.

Venue: UNU-Merit Conference Room

Date: 26 February 2014

Time: 12:30 - 13:30