Migration and Gender Relations: How Does Russia Shape a Tajik Male Migrant's Perspective?

Date: 14 July 2015

Joseph Schottenfeld, Visiting Fellow, University of Central Asia, National Geographic Young Explorer Grant Recipient

Migration has, in many ways, come to define the current economic situation in Tajikistan and Central Asia. Of course, movement of this kind, at such a scale, also has profound effects on individuals and society here in Tajikistan, both for those who go and for those—individuals and communities—who remain behind. This presentation will explore migration’s effects on the views and perceptions of those who travel, through the lens of Tajik taxi drivers. Taxi drivers in the Rasht Valley, one of the more religiously conservative and impoverished regions of Tajikistan, enjoy a high degree of mobility. Nearly to a man, all have traveled to Russia for work – proceeds from the migration often supply the funds to buy cars. Back in Tajikistan, some travel regularly to Dushanbe, while others move between the villages that line the valley and places like Gharm, a regional hub. Their relatively unfettered movement stands in sharp contrast with the limited mobility of women, including the spouses of drivers, many of whom are rarely able to leave their village or neighborhood. Based off of interviews conducted with taxi drivers in the Rasht Valley during the late winter and early spring of 2015, my presentation will explore this contrast through the perception of the drivers. How do the repeated exposures of the drivers – their encounters with different levels and manifestations of traditional gender relations in Russia, Dushanbe, and even Gharm – affect their own understanding of the constraints on their wives’ movement? Back home, in their village, how are they re-traditionalized?

Joseph Schottenfeld is a Visiting fellow at the University of Central Asia and the recipient of a National Geographic Society Young Explorer grant. He has been conducting ethnographic field research in the Rasht Valley since January. He received his BA from Yale University and will return there for law school in the fall of 2016.

The presentation will be in English. Russian translation provided upon prior request.

University of Central Asia, 138 Toktogul Street, Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, 2nd Floor Conference Room.

Please RSVP to nazgul.abdrazakova@ucentralasia.org with your name and affiliation. Please indicate if you require Russian translation.

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