Cross-Border Smuggling in North Niger: The Morality of the Informal and the Construction of a Hybrid Order

  • Luca Raineri
Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)


The chapter explores how the entanglements between immorality, informality, and illegality contribute to the governance of the trans-Saharan migration. Based on extensive fieldwork conducted in 2015 and 2016, the chapter focuses on the case of Niger, which is deemed as a major cross-road of migration flows toward North Africa and Europe. By doing so, it addresses a significant research gap, given the numerous reports addressing migration routes from, but not to, North Africa. The first part of the chapter accounts for the rise of the informal practices of cross-Saharan smuggling in Niger and situates them vis-à-vis the social norms, political struggles, and legal frameworks prevailing locally. It discusses how foreign, and namely European, agencies are currently promoting an increasing illegalization of trans-Saharan human mobility, while showing less concern for other traffics, such as that of drugs. The chapter then argues that the connivance of Nigerien authorities foils this emerging legal dispositif. The organization and protection rackets of migratory flows nourish the patronage networks upon which Nigerien regime relies; furthermore, it increases the safety of migratory patterns, albeit illegal. From this perspective, the chapter explores the contradictions and opportunities resulting from the intersection of different informal networks of power at different levels and responding to different normative orders.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luca Raineri
    • 1
  1. 1.Scuola Superiore Sant’AnnaPisaItaly

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