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From Transit Migrants to Trading Migrants: Development Opportunities for Nigerians in the Transnational Trade Sector of Istanbul

Author(s): Joris Schapendonk

Journal: Sustainability
ISSN 2071-1050

Volume: 5;
Issue: 7;
Start page: 2856;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: migration-trade nexus | translocal development | Istanbul | Nigeria | migration hub | informal trade | transit migration | transnationalism

This paper critically discusses the relation between human mobility and development. It moves away from conventional migration-development policy discussions that mainly focus on diaspora-like actors, who have established a stable and integrated socio-economic position in the destination countries. Instead, it looks at mobility-development dynamics in the context of less privileged and less integrated migrants; Nigerian migrants who are (or have been) living in transit-like situations in the city of Istanbul (Turkey). Based on in-depth interviews with Nigerian migrants, it analyses migrants’ personal developments in the light of their migration trajectories. The analysis particularly shows how upward social mobility is not so much found in onward migration to Europe, but in getting involved in a different form of mobility; informally arranged transnational trade between Turkey and West Africa. It outlines the diverse roles of migrants in this informal trade sector and elaborates on their relations with fly in/fly out traders originating from Africa. With these empirical insights, I conclude that these migrants do not belong to settled diaspora communities, but nevertheless, act as bridges between “here” and “there” and contribute to the creation of (new) development corridors.

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