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  • Moralities of Border Crossing: Inside the World of Smuggling and Transnational Marriages

    Milena Belloni

    Chapter from the book: Belloni, M. 2019. The Big Gamble: The Migration of Eritreans to Europe.


    Chapter 4 investigates emic moralities underpinning unauthorized and semi-authorized migration practices such as irregular border crossings and transnational marriages. While exploring the moral and political claims behind border crossing, this chapter provides alternative insights into the above migration practices. Usually depicted as sites of oppression by the public debate, they are instead perceived by the main protagonists as legitimate ways to attain freedom. Building on refugees’ narratives and on ethnographic research with two smugglers in Ethiopia and in Sudan, the chapter describes the complex world of the professionals of irregular migration and the moral and social embeddedness of their business in the same refugees’ communities. Then, the chapter illustrates the bundle of affection, economic interest and mobility desires among refugees’ transnational couples. Partly emerging from the reproduction of traditional marital arrangements and partly from business occasions, transnational marriages are mostly perceived as legitimate mechanisms to help co-nationals pursue further mobility.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Belloni, M. 2019. Moralities of Border Crossing: Inside the World of Smuggling and Transnational Marriages. In: Belloni, M, The Big Gamble. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.82.e

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    Published on Dec. 17, 2019