African Migrants in Istanbul: Relationships with Turkish State

Irene Fabricci

February 2019

MPhil International Development (University of Oxford)

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In recent years, Turkey has experienced a renewed influx of migrants and refugees from different parts of the world, many of whom have settled in Istanbul in light of the higher job opportunities, accommodation availability and larger social networks in comparison to other parts of the country. African migration to Turkey began largely in the 1990s. Some migrants intended from the start to travel on to Europe; others decided to settle in Turkey, or chose to travel on after spending a period of time in the country. The presentation will focus on the practices of place-making by which African migrants in Istanbul create transnational African spaces. Through the study of the narratives, materiality and social relations emerging from three social spaces - a restaurant, a music festival and a football tournament - this paper attempts to understand the ways in which African migrants relate to the Turkish state through practices of statecraft and statehood. Data for this paper, as well as the Master thesis it is part of, was collected during fieldwork in Istanbul during July and August 2018.

Since my undergraduate studies, I have been interested in questions about the state and migration; this master thesis gave me the opportunity to develop my understanding further in a city that I absolutely adore, Istanbul.