Journal Articles

Daring to aspire: theorising aspirations in contexts of displacement and highly constrained mobility. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 1-20. (co-authored with Lea Müller-Funk and Milena Belloni) 

Binary distinctions between ‘refugees’ and ‘economic migrants’ continue to prevail in humanitarian discourse, with asylum policies heavily focusing on refugees’ vulnerabilities and reduced choices. By addressing the paradox between vulnerability and agency embedded in the international protection regime, this article aims to lay the foundations for reconceptualising aspirations in contexts of displacement and highly constrained mobility. First, we analyse how the current asylum regime selectively encourages certain aspirations among refugees and delegitimises others which do not fit the image of the hopeless refugee deserving assistance. Then, we pursue three new analytical avenues in adding nuance to previous versions of the aspiration–capability framework. First, we discuss the importance of aspirations to stay in contexts of displacement and suggest that aspirations to stay and to migrate should not be seen as mutually exclusive. Second, drawing on psychological studies, we highlight that aspirations can be an emotional resource even in contexts where their realisation seems to be or certainly is unreachable. Lastly, we propose looking at the political dimensions of individual and collective aspirations to understand how displaced people can strive to induce social and political change despite the structural constraints they face.

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“At Least, at the Border, I Am Killing Myself by My Own Will”: Migration Aspirations and Risk Perceptions among Syrian and Afghan Communities. Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies, 1-15. (co-authored with Eda Kirişçioğlu) 

It is well-documented that border controls make migration journeys riskier for people on the move. Policymakers construe deaths in migration journeys as resulting from the individual risk-taking attitudes of migrants. However, risks involved in migration journeys are not only related to border control measures. Based on the analysis of 30 semi-structured interviews conducted with Syrian and Afghan migrants in Turkey, we embrace a social constructionist approach to unpack how migrants form their aspirations based on their risk perceptions. Our findings explain why some migrants would still move onwards despite violent borders while others stay or search for “safer” ways for onward migration.

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ASPIRATIONS AMONG YOUNG REFUGEES IN TURKEY: SOCIAL CLASS, INTEGRATION AND ONWARD MIGRATION IN FORCED MIGRATION CONTEXTS, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies48(20), 2022, pp. 4865-4884. (co-authored with Ezgi Elçi)

The prevailing sentiment is that refugees desire to go to developed countries rather than stay in their first host country. Based on a critical reading of the literature on onward migration, this article analyzes the formation of aspirations for (im)mobility among young Syrian refugees in Turkey, considering their initial access to resources and integration. Our quantitative analysis suggests that obtaining legal status, satisfaction with life, perceived cultural similarities between the Turkish and Syrian communities, and hence perceived inclusion are the foremost drivers of aspirations to stay in Turkey. The analysis also shows that rather than migrants’ social class, migration-specific capital, such as a passport and networks abroad, drives onward migration aspirations. The qualitative analysis further unpacks the relationship between economic, cultural, and social capital as well as the subjective experience of integration and aspirations to move on or stay. Analyzing different trajectories, we highlight the importance of ‘start up capital’ at the onset of displacement in shaping opportunities for settlement and future aspirations. Our discussion underscores that resources and opportunities explain onward mobility aspirations in protracted displacement contexts in relation to daily experiences of inclusion and to considerations regarding social class and social mobility in the future.

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“‘Street-level justifications’: Service providers mediating refugee reception in the urban context of Istanbul”, Journal of Refugee Studies, 35 (1), 2022. pp.74-92

Abstract:  This article discusses the mediating role of service providers between citizens and refugee reception policies. Based on an analysis of interviews with local government officials and NGO workers and observations in two districts of Istanbul, I examine the ‘street-level justifications’ that service providers use to counter anti-refugee resentments expressed by the citizens. The article suggests that as street-level bureaucrats endeavour to justify their work with refugees through three types discursive strategies; cultural similarity, call for empathy, and pragmatic explanations. Such strategies by constantly re-defining us and them, bear implications for social cohesion. The article offers a meso-level analysis of refugee reception policies in the Turkish context and highlights the limits of initial hospitality. The findings have wider implications for other contexts where the settlement of displaced or migrant populations is rather nascent, policies are top-down and where bureaucratic structures mediate among displaced populations, citizens, and the resources available to them.

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Abstract: Peering through a lens of disasters and inequalities, this article measures the financial impacts of COVID-19 on citizens and refugee communities in Turkey during a relatively early phase of the global pandemic. Our data comes from an online survey (N = 1752) conducted simultaneously with Turkish citizens and Syrian refugees living in Turkey, followed by in-depth online interviews with Syrian refugees. Our findings indicate that the initial COVID-19 measures had a higher financial impact on Syrians than on citizens when controlled for employment, wealth, and education, among other variables. In line with the literature, our research confirms that disasters’ socio-economic effects disproportionally burden minority communities. We additionally discuss that COVID-19 measures have significantly more accelerated effects on refugees than on the local population, mainly due to the structural and policy context within which forcibly displaced Syrians have been received in Turkey.

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MIGRATION-DEVELOPMENT-SECURITY NEXUS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE EXTERNAL DIMENSIONS OF THE EU POLICIES, Ankara Avrupa Çalışmaları Dergisi, 19 (2), 2020, ss. 523-552. (co-authored with Kübra Ergün)

Abstact: This paper questions how migration-development nexus has been conceptualized on the EU policymaking agenda since the early 2000s. To explore this question, this paper focuses on documents laying out Union’s strategy for the external dimensions of the EU migration policy. The empirical evidence is gathered from the content analysis of Council Conclusions, Commission’s Communications and Reports, and the secondary literature on external dimensions of the EU migration policy. Our study finds that the already existing securitized approach to migrationdevelopment nexus prevailed after 2015, hollowing out the relation between migration and development with an increasingly narrower focus on development and the new narrative of ‘saving lives’. We conclude that the securitization of migration underpins the current ambivalent approach to the migration-development nexus in the EU policy-making context.

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“Türkiye’de Zorunlu Göç ve Toplumsal Cinsiyet: Suriyeli mülteciler hakkındaki veriler üzerine bir değerlendirme”, Woman 2000/ Kadın 2000, 21:2, 2020, ss. 86-106 (with H. Berra İnce).

Özet: Yerinden edilme süreçlerinin uzun yıllara yayılması ve artan sayıda nüfusu etkilemesi ile beraber, 1980’lerde mülteci çalışmaları ve zorunlu göç çalışmaları bilimsel bir alan olarak ortaya çıkmıştır.  Aynı zamanlarda, göç ve kalkınma alanındaki feminist yaklaşımlar, toplumsal cinsiyeti analitik bir mercek olarak dikkate alan araştırmaların azlığına dikkat çekmiştir. Halen süregelen tartışmada en büyük eleştirilerinden biri zorunlu göç alanında kanıta dayalı politika yapımını bilgilendirecek cinsiyet ve yaşa dayalı verilerin eksikliğidir. Türkiye, Suriye savaşının ardından dünyanın en yüksek mülteci alıcı ülkesi olduğundan; bir yandan Türkiye’ye yönelen mülteci nüfus üzerine yapılan araştırmalar katlanarak artmaktadır. Diğer yandan ise, uluslararası literatürdeki eleştirileri takiben, Türkiye bağlamındaki çalışmalarda zorla yerinden olmanın nedenlerini, deneyimlerini ve sonuçlarını açıklamada toplumsal cinsiyet perspektifi ihtiyacı vurgulanmaktadır. Feminist bir perspektif benimseyen nitel çalışmaların yanında, bu çalışmaları besleyecek nüfusun yapısını anlamaya yönelik demografik araştırmalarda toplumsal cinsiyet perspektifi ve buna dayalı veriler eksik kalmıştır.  Uluslararası ve Türkiye merkezli literatürle diyalog içinde olan bu makale; mevcut raporları ve istatistikleri gözden geçirir, toplumsal cinsiyete dayalı veriler üzerinden bir derleme yapar. Makale, Türkiye’deki mülteci nüfus için elde olan verinin, toplumsal cinsiyet çıktılarını ele alırken, cinsiyet bazlı verilerin eksikliğini ve bu verilere duyulan ihtiyacı ortaya koymaktadır.

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“Mekânla Pazarlık: Avrupalı göçmenlerin Türkiye’deki refah ve “ayrıcalık” deneyimleri”, Alternatif Politika, 12(3), 2020, ss. 565-589. (co-authored with Ezgi İrgil and Gözde Cöbek)

Özet: Bu makale, Türkiye’de yaşayan Avrupa doğumlu göçmenlerin coğrafi eşitsizlikler ve mekâna dayalı ayrıcalıklı göçmen olma deneyimi üzerinedir. Yaşam tarzı göçü literatüründen yola çıkarak bu göçmen grubunun maddi ve duygusal anlamda iyi bir yaşam sürmelerini sağlayan göreceli ayrıcalık deneyimlerini irdelemektedir. Bu çalışma, güçlü pasaport ile gelen ayrıcalıklarının, göçmenlerin bulundukları ülkedeki yapısal, ekonomik ve politik koşullardan kaynaklanan güvencesizlik koşullarından bağımsız olmadığını göstermektedir. Bunun yanında, yaşadıkları güvencesiz durumlarla başa çıkmak için mekânla nasıl pazarlık ettiklerini açıklamaktadır. Bu bağlamda araştırmamız, ayrıcalıklı göçmenlerin hareketlilik pratiklerinden yola çıkarak “mekân pazarlıkçıları” kavramını önermektedir. Böylelikle makale, “ayrıcalık” kavramının maddi, kültürel, mekânsal tartışmaya açmayı amaçlamaktadır. Tartışmamızın ampirik bulguları, daha büyük bir projenin parçası olarak Türkiye’de yaşayan Polonyalı ve İngiliz göçmenlerle yapılan 18 derinlemesine görüşmeye dayanmaktadır.

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 “Under the shadow of civilizationist populist discourses: migration debates at times of election in Turkey”, New Diversities 21(2), 2019, pp.37-51. (co-authored with Zeynep Yanaşmayan and Zeynep Kaşlı).

Abstract: This article explores the extent and limits of anti-immigration discourse in recent political debates in Turkey. Anti-immigrant discourses have been at the heart of exclusionary populisms, where right-wing political actors present immigrants as economic, social and security threats. It is remarkable that this is not yet the case in Turkey, one of the world’s major refugee-receiving countries. Using an original dataset, composed of party programmes, parliamentary records and public statements by presidential candidates in the last two rounds of general and presidential elections between 2014 and 2018, we argue that politicians from both incumbent and opposition parties in Turkey have used the ‘refugee card’ to appeal to the growing social, economic and cultural grievances of their voters but in a rather limited and divergent manner. Debates over migration have oscillated between the Western European right-wing populist perception of ‘threat’ and the pro-Syrian and civilizationist populism of the ruling party that relies on a transnational notion of ‘ummah’.

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“The impact of externalized migration governance on Turkey: Technocratic migration governance and the production of differentiated legal status”, Comparative Migration Studies, 7(1), 46, 2019. 

Abstract:  The article highlights international dimensions of the emergence and transformation of migration policies in Turkey from the early 2000s onwards, including the context of the Syrian displacement, which made Turkey the top refugee hosting country in the world. While the transformation of migration governance in Turkey has widely been discussed, the effects of externalization on Turkey have remained focused on foreign policy and Turkey-EU relations. Only recently has the research explored the socio-legal implications of migration governance in terms of the emergence of categorizations leading to differentiated inclusion of migrant groups. The article establishes the historical and conceptual link between technocratic responses to externalization dynamics and the emergence of differentiated legal status. The article argues that measures of externalization brought a technocratic approach to migration governance. As a result, the complex, controversial aspects of the externalization process, such as the production of differentiated legal statuses amongst migrant communities with protection needs, have so far been overshadowed.

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“Externalization at Work: Responses to Migration Policies from the Global South”, Comparative Migration Studies  7(1), 48, 2019.  (introduction to the Special Issue co-edited with Inka Stock and Susanne Schultz). 

Abstract: The term “externalization” is used by a range of migration scholars, policy makers and the media to describe the extension of border and migration controls beyond the so-called ‘migrant receiving nations’ in the Global North and into neighboring countries or sending states in the Global South. It refers to a wide range of practices from controls of borders, rescue operations, to measures addressing the drivers of migration. The ambition of this Special Issue is to contribute to the mapping of the responses to externalization dynamics. The different articles in this volume are chosen to exemplify some of these processes at different levels of analysis. Through diverse disciplinary perspectives, the authors show how practices of externalization are being confronted, succumbed, modified and contested by individual (would-be) migrants, civil society actors and the host states’ institutions in different parts of the globe. In an effort to move away from a sole focus on border zones in the Global North, the Special Issue contributes to emerging literature shifting the locus of analysis to places in the Global South, which are conventionally understood as “transit” or “sending” countries in Africa, America as well as within Europe itself.

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This article introduced the Special issue, co-edited by myself, Inka Stock and Susanne Schultz. For the whole Special Issue, See, Comparative Migration Studies, Vol 8, No: 4

“Border closures and the externalization of immigration controls in the Mediterranean: A comparative analysis of Morocco and Turkey.” New Perspectives on Turkey 59, 2018, pp.7-31. (co-authored with Ahmet İçduygu).

Abstract: This article traces the recent history of border closures in Turkey and Morocco and their impact on human mobility at the two ends of the Mediterranean. Border closures in the Mediterranean have produced new spaces where borders are often fenced, immigration securitized, and border crossings and those facilitating border crossings criminalized. Here, bordering practices are conceptualized as physical bordering practices, border controls, and legal measures. Turkey and Morocco constitute comparable cases for an analysis of border closures insofar as they utilize similar mechanisms of closure, despite having quite different outcomes in terms of numbers. The article’s findings are based on fieldwork conducted at both locations between 2012 and 2014, as well as on analysis of Frontex Risk Assessment Reports from 2010 to 2016. The first part of the article reflects on the concepts of border closure and securitization, together with their implications, and draws for its argument on critical security studies and critical border studies. The second part of the article is an overview of controls over mobility exercised in the Mediterranean from the 1990s onward. Then, in the third and fourth parts, we turn to the particular cases—respectively, Turkey and Morocco—in order to discuss their processes of border closure and the various implications thereof. Through analysis of the two country cases, we show that border closures are neither linear nor irreversible.

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“Legitimizing Settlement of Refugees: Unpacking Humanitarianism from Comparative Perspective” Geografie, 122, 2017, pp.449-475.  (co-authored with Ahmet İçduygu, İzem Aral, Balacan Ayar). 

Abstract: Refugee protection and humanitarianism have evolved hand in hand in the post-World War 2 era despite shortcomings. Since the 1980s however, we have witnessed a weakening of the international protection regime and a restrictive and securitised approach to asylum. The current situation of Syrian refugees has revealed that the international protection system falls short of efficiently responding to protracted refugees situations. In the context of selective and declining humanitarianism, our analysis moves from the international context to the national context to demonstrate how government officials legitimise receiving mass numbers of refugee. This article scrutinises the political discourse of refugee reception in Turkey and Germany as two countries receiving a high number of refugees. Through analysis of political statements in both countries between 2011 and 2016, we explore how international humanitarianism has taken different shapes in the discourse of government officials. Our findings reveal the general trend that humanitarianism in the case of refugee reception manifests itself selectively, reflecting not only humanitarian obligations stemming from international law but also political, cultural and economic priorities of governments.

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“Türkiye’de Uluslararası Göçün Yönetimi: Yasa dışılığın Uluslararası Üretiminden Makbul Yabancıya?”Toplum ve Bilim, 140, 2017, pp.106-121.

Özet: Bu makalede, Türkiye örneği kullanılarak Avrupa sınırlarının hemen ötesinde, düzensiz göç hareketlerinin nasıl siyasal bir mesele haline geldiği tartışılacaktır. 1990’lardan beri, Avrupa Birliği’nin dış sınırlarından düzensiz göçmen girişlerini durdurma çabasının bir sonucu olarak, AB kendisiyle sınırı olan, Türkiye gibi üçüncü ülkelere yönelik çeşitli politikalar izlemiştir. Bunlar, bu ülkelerin özellikle AB sınırındaki kontrolleri ve fiziksel altyapıyı güçlendirmeye, ülkelerin göç hukuku alanındaki yasal çerçevelerini dönüştürmeye yönelik maddi, idari destekler ve ayrıca bu alanda çalışan uluslararası, ulusal, yerel sivil toplum örgütlerinin aktivitelerini artırmaya yönelik destekler olarak sayılabilir. Bu makale, Türkiye’nin, 2000 sonrası dönemde, Avrupa çevresinde “transit” ülke olarak konumlandırılışını ve AB’nin Türkiye’deki düzensiz göç hareketlerinin yönetişimine olan etkisini inceler. Bu dönüşüm “göçmen yasadışılığının uluslararası üretimi” kavramı üzerinden açıklanmaktadır. Analiz, yasal metinlerdeki ve politika yapıcılarının ve uygulayıcılarının söylemlerinin incelenmesi üzerine kuruludur. Bu noktada, Avrupa sınır ve göç politikalarının dış boyutu üzerine olan uluslararası ilişkiler literatürü ile göçmen yasadışılığının yasal üretimi ve hangi yabancının yasal statüyü hak ettiği üzerine olan sosyolojik literatür bir araya getirilmektedir. Makale, Türkiye’yi dünyanın en çok mülteci ağırlayan ülkesi haline getiren Suriye iç savaşı çerçevesindeki gelişmeleri de dikkate alarak, Türkiye’nin düzensiz göç politikalarının ortaya çıkışının ve dönüşümünün uluslararası boyutuna ve göçmenlerin yasal statülerinin üretimi bağlamındaki sonuçlarına dikkat çeker.

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“Political Activism between Journey and Settlement: Irregular Migrant Mobilisation in Morocco”, Geopolitics, 21:2, 2016, pp.303-324.

Abstact: Research on irregular migrants’ political mobilisation focuses particularly on Western countries, conceptualised as final destinations for migrants, and documents how irregular migrants claim rights despite high risks involved. Based on a qualitative research in Morocco, the article explores the conditions under which individual journeys, allegedly to Europe, give rise to political activism by irregular migrants. Thus, it contributes to the literature on irregular migrants’ political mobilisation as well as on clandestine journeys. Morocco, identified with “transit migration” at the periphery of the EU, has been subjected to the externalisation of EU migration policies since the early 1990s. Taking a critical approach to the concept of “transit country”, the article highlights the implications of the term on migrants’ lived experiences of the journey and of settlement, which have encouraged a pro-regularisation movement in Morocco. Facing violent practices, sub-Saharan migrants established informal associations and forged alliances with emerging local and transnational civil society actors. The framing of migrants’ demands in relation to the Moroccan democratisation process, African identity, and the Moroccan emigration experience reinforced such alliances and their demands of regularisation. As a partial response to emerging critiques, the Moroccan government announced a new migratory approach and a regularisation campaign implemented throughout 2014. The analysis of migrant mobilisation in Morocco thus provides an important case to trace processes enabling irregular migrants to gain political voice, even in contexts where irregular migration is highly criminalised and stigmatised.

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“Dynamics in Emigration and Immigration Policies of Morocco: A Double Engagement”, Migration and Development, 4 (2), 2015, pp.238-255.

Abstract: Migration policies of Morocco face diverse challenges such as the maintenance of close ties with Moroccans abroad, enhancing development through emigration but also the management of irregular migration to and through Morocco. Since 1990s, the official discourse of the state vis-à-vis the diaspora ceased to be against the integration of Moroccans in host countries and the state initiated new institutions to forge transnational ties. With its new institutions addressing the needs of Moroccans abroad, the Moroccan state prioritized the human rights of their emigrants at least at discursive level. As the state continues to have interest in controlling remittances and channelling them into investment, emigration remains high on the political agenda. Concurrently, another major concern for the authorities has been control of irregular border crossings through Morocco. The Moroccan state, pressured by the EU, enhanced its border controls through technical and financial assistance by the EU and introduced new laws and institutions to deal with immigration. This process arguably resulted in coercive measures taken against irregular border crossings, hence criticized as undermining the human rights of irregular migrants. This article explains an almost simultaneous emergence of institutions dealing with emigration and immigration aspects of international mobility in Morocco throughout 1990s and 2000s. It argues that ongoing emigration experience and close relations with emigrants may have positive impact on discourses on the treatment of immigrants within the country and eventually on immigration policies.

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“The Impact of Remittances on Human Development: a Quantitative Analysis and Policy Implications” Economics and Sociology 5 (1), 2012, pp.74-85 (co-authored with Darja Irdam).

Abstract: This paper contributes to the discussions on the nexus between migration and development by assessing the effects of remittances on human development. We do so first through a quantitative approach, and second, by elaborating the findings of our quantitative analysis within a broader theoretical and policy framework. By using OLS, we measure the impact of remittances on human development and compare it with the effect of foreign direct investment (FDI) and official development assistance (ODA). The findings indicate that remittances have a positive correlation with the human development level and are indeed an effective way to enhance human development in countries with medium income, especially in the medium run. We demonstrate that remittances show divergent developmental effects in
countries with different government approaches to migration. In the second part of the paper, we discuss different hypotheses about the causes of the problems that our findings reveal and compare different actual policy solutions found in the developing world. We argue that
remittances have the most positive effect in terms of boosting human development in the countries where the state perceives migration as an effective labour export strategy.

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“Reflections from the Conference ‘Turkey Debates its Social Policies’ A Rights-Based Turn in Social Policy Making in Turkey?” New Perspectives on Turkey, 47, Fall 2012, pp. 169-184 (co-authored with Ayşe Alnıaçık).

To read the review article, click here