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Driven women

Reconceptualizing women in traffic through the case of Gagauz mobile domestics

Leyla J. Keough

This article focuses on the skill and fortitude of Gagauz Moldovans who migrate to Istanbul to work as domestic laborers. I consider how these 'driven' women negotiate their subject positions as mothers and wives, educated workers, migrants and paid domestic laborers, Turkish-speaking Christians and former Soviets. While their understandings reproduce certain power relations in Turkey and Moldova, their journeys also constitute a route for empowerment. Their situation is presented in the context of a 'discourse of sexual threat' that circulates about them in Turkey. I examine how this discourse and the women's understandings of their own subjectivities work to open or close off, contribute to or limit, the subject positions, the goals and desires, and the potential agency of Gagauz and Turkish individuals. By considering these issues in this way, I argue that this case study may challenge traditional academic conceptualizations of migration in Europe, female subjects and power relations.

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Mette Louise Berg, Hülya Demirdirek, Albert Doja, Leyla J. Keough, Orvar Löfgren, Kacper Pobłocki, Peter Skalník, Gavin Smith, Banu Nilgün Uygun, Katherine Verdery and Judith Whitehead

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