chapter  5
Decisions and relations
Pages 18

This chapter moves from examining the tactics of human smuggling operations to those who hire the services of smugglers. I have self-consciously left this chapter as a testimony to the experiences of those who have survived clandestine border crossings. While I have included thematic categorizations, interpretations, and analytical notes of my own, I leave much of the chapter to the voices of respondents. The quotes, drawn from life stories of migration, illustrate the multiple individual contingencies of movement which are shaped by relations with other individuals as well as by available pathways out of violent geopolitical change. The stories relayed here are “barometer[s] of geopolitics” (Hyndman, 2012, p. 249)—personal measures of the geopolitical pressures and tendencies that forecast changes in when and where to move with the help of a smuggler. The textual fragments presented here arose from in-depth conversations with migrants who had survived crossing through Turkey into Greece with the use of a human smuggler, and focus on the common themes and perils encountered along the way. 1 The chapter presents the contingent relational geographies of human smuggling, moving between spaces, scales, individual decisions, and the social relations which characterize movement in the Eastern Mediterranean. The snapshots below are fragmented sketches of kararlar [decisions] to move and bag˘lantılar [relations] between migrants and smugglers. I focus on the contingent individual as well as the relational to draw out (dis)connected experiences of clandestine migration, to demonstrate the tensions between individual choices to move (or not) and the relations which confi gure such decisions.