Slavic and Eurasian Studies

Lecture "Gender, Migration and the Kazakh Diaspora in Mongolia" by Dr. Cynthia Werner

Fri, October 16, 2009 | Chicano Culture Room, Texas Union 4.206

1:00 PM


The Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies presents:

Returning Home: 

Gender, Migration and the Kazakh Diaspora in Mongolia

Dr. Cynthia Werner

Associate Professor of Anthropology

Texas A&M University

Oct. 16


Chicano Culture Room

Texas Union 4.206

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, nearly one half of the 120,000 Mongolian Kazakhs migrated to newly independent Kazakhstan. Western Mongolia was particularly devastated by the post-socialist transition, which simultaneously brought a decline in supply routes and employment opportunities. The decision to move away from Mongolia to Kazakhstan reflects both the economic situation in Mongolia during the transition period (push factors) as well as the lure of returning to what many (but not all) Mongolian Kazakhs perceive as their ancestral “homeland” (pull factor). These economic and cultural incentives to migrate have been supported by initiatives from the Kazakhstani government. In the 1990s, the typical pattern for migration among Mongolian Kazakhs involved the simultaneous movement of large kin groups, consisting of several related households. This was followed by a trend towards “chain migration” where individuals would migrate to join existing kin in Kazakhstan. In both cases, women tend to migrate with larger kin groups, which are usually their husband’s kin group, and both women and men maintain strong transnational ties with their relatives in Mongolia. This paper considers the migration of Mongolian Kazakhs from Mongolia to Kazakhstan from a gendered perspective. The paper considers the following questions: How do gendered imaginations of migration affect migration decision-making? How does gender relate to the “work” involved in maintaining transnational ties and building social capital in both countries? This paper is based on ethnographic fieldwork in both Mongolia and Kazakhstan. 

Cynthia Werner is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Texas A&M University. Since the early 1990s, Werner has conducted research in Central Asia on the following topics: gift exchange, household networks, bride abduction, shuttle trade, and international tourism development, nuclear testing, and transnational migration.

For more information, please contact Allegra Azulay at 471-3607 or at 


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