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Sustainable Illegality: Gagauz Women in Istanbul

Bayram Unal


This study deals with survival strategies of illegal migrants in Turkey. It aims to provide an explanation for the efforts to keep illegality sustainable for one specific ethnic/national group—that is, the Gagauz of Moldova, who are of Turkish ethnic origin. In order to explicate the advantages of Turkish ethnic origin, I will focus on their preferential treatment at state-law level and in terms of the implementation of the law by police officers. In a remarkable way, the juridical framework has introduced legal ways of dealing with the illegality of ethnically Turkish migrants. From the viewpoint of migration, the presence of strategic tools of illegality forces us to ask not so much law-related questions, but to turn to a sociological inquiry of how and why they overstay their visas. Therefore, this study concludes that it is the social processes behind their illegality, rather than its form, that is more important for our understanding of the migrants’ survival strategies in destination countries.


Illegality; ethnic division; survival strategies; Turkey

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