Annotation: Bloch, Alexia. 2011. Intimate Circuits

Bloch, Alexia. 2011. Intimate Circuits: Modernity, Migration and Marriage among Post-Soviet Women in Turkey. Global Networks, 11(4):502–521.

Bloch looks at the case of women migrants from the former Soviet Union who seek to engage in unskilled labour in Turkey, to understand the interweaving of intimate practices with transnational mobility (503). In the early 1990s, Turkey’s borders opened to new migrants, including women from the former Soviet Union, who rapidly became integrated in the wholesale garments trading industry (505-6). While Russian women were seen as being well-educated and cultured (507), the hundreds of years of Turkish-Russian interaction also shaped the public perception of Russian women as natashas – alluring sexworkers or carriers of sexually transmitted diseases. Within the context of the increased mobilty of Russian women, it became a marker of status for some Turkish men to keep as lovers or marry Russian women (509). This led to the increased tightening of  the Turkish borders in 2003 (e.g. three-year waiting period for citizenship application). This regulation also meant “to protect innocent Turkish men from Russian women who seek marriages of convenience” (508). Within this context, Bloch writes about the narratives of Russian women to show how state regulation, practices of marriage, and women’s emotional entanglements complicate the enduring personal relationships of Russian migrants. The “intimate circuits,” in the case of the women mentioned in Bloch’s article, include expectations for reciprocal forms of care, emotional support, and spending time together (513), as well as  possibilities for economic security and material well-being. Bloch argues that within the context of such heavily regulated migration, it is through “intimate circuits” that post-Soviet Union women migrants in Turkey maintain their roles as providers back home, at the same time fulfilling their need for “meaningful relationships.” Thus, “the line between love, romance, and material security is one that blurs and shifts over time” (515).

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