Editorial: Categorising Migrants: Standards, complexities, and politics


  • Claus K. Meyer
  • Sebastian Boll




In spring 2017, New York Times correspondent Patrick Kingsley went to Turkey to cover the lives of Syrian refugees. In Istanbul, Kingsley met Abu Mohammed, a former surgeon’s assistant from Syria, who between 2015 and 2016 had helped to facilitate the passage of refugees from his home country into Greece. After narrowly escaping death in his own failed attempt to reach Europe, Mohammed had earned some USD 800,000 with ‘smuggling’ activities. He himself spoke of a ‘dirty business’, but it had also been more than just a business—the refugees whom he had helped reach Europe included relatives and even his own son.

Kingsley also met 15-year-old Syrian Ismail Alanzi, a refugee working ‘up to 11 hours a day, six days a week’ on a farm in the east of Turkey—much more than the limit set by Turkish law for someone his age. With his father unable to find employment, however, the burden of supporting the family fell upon Ismail. He earned about TRY 800 (USD 225) per month for his toil, which was little more than half of the statutory minimum wage in the country. Ismail also received permission for his family to set up a tent on the land of his employer as they struggled to find proper housing. Turkish law restricts refugees to residing in the province where they are registered, but the family had moved in search of work.


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Author Biographies

Claus K. Meyer

Claus K. Meyer is a lecturer at the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies at Mahidol University in Thailand. Meyer earned his Ph.D. from the European University Institute (Florence, Italy) with a comparative thesis on plantation slavery in South Carolina and manorialism in Brandenburg (Prussia). His interest now focuses on the empirical comparison of ‘modern-day slavery’ with historical slaveries.

Sebastian Boll

Sebastian Boll is the Regional Research Specialist at the United Nations Action for Cooperation against Trafficking in Persons (UN-ACT), a project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Greater Mekong Sub-region, where he oversees the research and learning portfolio. Mr. Boll has been based in different parts of Southeast Asia for the past 10 years, working on migration and exploitation. He holds degrees related to politics and international relations from the School of European Studies (The Hague, The Netherlands) and Aalborg University (Denmark).




How to Cite

Meyer, C. K., & Boll, S. (2018). Editorial: Categorising Migrants: Standards, complexities, and politics. Anti-Trafficking Review, (11). https://doi.org/10.14197/atr.201218111