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Doing <em>bizness</em>

Migrant smuggling and everyday life in the Maghreb

Line Richter

Drawing on extensive fieldwork among Malian migrants and connection men, this article investigates the sociality of facilitating migrant journeys and illegal border crossings in the Maghreb. Dominant discourses portray smugglers as participating in highly organized networks of unscrupulous people taking advantage of innocent migrants. I counter such narratives by zooming in on West African migrants involved in the facilitation of illegal border crossings. This bizness consists of ensembles of temporary practices and relations embedded in everyday life with linkages to historical and regional practices of brokering and hosting. This perspective invites us to move conceptually from focusing on different (stereo) types of smugglers to considering smuggling practices; to make sense of the phenomenon, we need to pay less attention to fixed social positions and more to the transient social poses adopted by those involved.