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Centre of Migration Research

Ignacy Jóźwiak. 2021.

Navigating the opportunities and constraints. Migration as a local response to non-local political developments


Cargo. Journal for Cultural and Social Anthropology 1-2|2021 | pages: 11-34



The article describes the ways national and international political developments translate into migration patterns. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in a small town in Transcarpathia region in Western Ukraine, it offers an insight into the livelihood practices of its inhabitants. Labour migration is presented in the context of political and economic developments in Ukraine as well as the regional and local specifics of Transcarpathia (geographical location, ethnic composition, historical legacy). The politics of Ukraine’s neighbouring countries are also considered an important factor in shaping migration patterns. Russia’s aggressive politics have posed a threat to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and left a mark on its economy and labour market. Hungary allows the inhabitants of the region to apply for its citizenship and Poland’s simplified regulation on access to its labour market attracts the visa applicants. Ethnographic description is centred around migratory experiences, applied strategies and the changes in these strategies in the face of the national and international political and economic developments. The article concludes that these locally observed phenomena reveal individual and collective agency in subverting social and political conditions to one’s benefit. It also points to the limits of this agency and the sustaining of social inequalities within and beyond migration.


agency, labour migration, transnationalism, Transcarpathia, Ukraine

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