#021 – On the Road with Romanian Migrants and Traders

with Norah Benarrosh-Orsoni


Travellers and drivers during a break on the road from Montreuil to Arad 

After 1989, Romania’s economy and its labor market experienced dramatic changes. One of the most common strategies to survive in a state of precariousness was emigration abroad. In this episode, we discuss two case studies based on based on transnational migration and cross-border informal trade. Firstly, we look at the Parisian suburb of Montreuil, where Roma families have settled in squats in different moments since the late 1990s, and from where they still often travel to Arad, in Transylvania, using mini-busses provided by informal travel agencies. Secondly, we move to the Laleli neighborhood in Istanbul to discuss suitcase trade mostly practiced by Romanian women.

Norah Benarrosh-Orsoni is a postdoctoral fellow at the CETOBAC – EHESS. She obtained her PhD in social anthropology at the Université Paris Ouest in september 2015. Her research interests focus on transnational mobility, material culture in and around domestic spaces, and transportation studies. Born and raised in Paris from Moroccan and Corsican origins, she is also an engraving artist and one of the co-founder of the independant journal Panthère Première, whose first issue will be published in September 2017.


To cite this episode: Benarrosh-Orsoni, Norah; Guidi, Andreas (2017): On the road with Romanian labor migrants, The Southeast Passage #021, 19.05.2017, http://thesoutheastpassage.com/podcast/benarrosh-orsoni-romanian-labor-migrants


Cântecul înstrăinatului” (The Expatriate Song), folk song from Transylvania recorded in 1928 (Bibliothèque Nationale de France – Enregistrements sonores)

Further reading:

Basu, Paul; Coleman, Simon (Eds.) (2008): Migrant worlds, material cultures. Special issue of the journal “Mobilities” 3 (3).

Benarrosh-Orsoni, Norah (2015a): Des maisonnées transnationales. Une migration rom dans ses routes, lieux et objets entre la Roumanie et la France. Université Paris Ouest Nanterre, Paris.

Benarrosh-Orsoni, Norah (2015b): Prendre la route à bord du microbus. Mobilités, ancrages et territorialités chez les Roms roumains entre Arad et Montreuil. In Michèle Baussant, Irène Dos Santos, Evelyne Ribert (Eds.): Logiques mémorielles et temporalités migratoires. Nanterre: PU Paris 10, pp. 295–324.

Boccagni, Paolo (2013): What’s in a (migrant) house? Changing domestic spaces, the negotiation of belonging and home-making in Ecuadorian migration. In Housing, Theory and Society 31 (3), pp. 277–293.

Borgel, Céline; Pérouse, Jean-François (2004): La gare routière du « Grand Istanbul », une étourdissante plaque tournante. In Autrepart 32 (4), pp. 51–73.

Chelcea, Liviu (2002): The culture of shortage during state-socialism. Consumption practices in a Romanian village in the 1980s. In Cultural Studies 16 (1), pp. 16–43.

Dalakoglou, Dimitris (2010): The road. An ethnography of the Albanian-Greek cross-border motorway. In American Ethnologist 37 (1), pp. 132–149.

Olivera, Martin (2009): Les Roms comme “minorité ethnique”? Un questionnement roumain. In Etudes tsiganes (39-40), pp. 128–150.

Pérouse, Jean-François (2002): Laleli, giga-bazar d’Istanbul ? Appréhender les caractéristiques et les mutations d’une place commerciale internationale. In Michel Peraldi (Ed.): La fin des norias? Réseaux migrants dans les économies marchandes en Méditerranée. Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose, pp. 307–333.

Yukseker, Deniz (2004): Trust and Gender in a Transnational Market. The Public Culture of Laleli, Istanbul. In Public Culture 16 (1), pp. 47–66.

The interior of a Roma migrant’s village house in Romania, May 2011

A suitcase shop next to the international bus station in Laleli, Istanbul, March 2017

Leaving Istanbul on the suitcase traders bus, Emniyet bus station, February 2016

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