Central Asia has in recent decades experienced mass migrations within and beyond its regional borders. This is nothing new per se as the resettlement of populations has been a constant feature also during socialist times and, in different ways, for earlier periods of history. But the global scale of present migrations has added a new dimension to these earlier experiences and has affected local populations in a variety of ways. It has also created new inequalities and imbalances among Central Asians and towards the receiving countries that are rife with resentments and antagonisms that did not exist before on this scale. This applies not only for labor migrants but as well for those seeking higher education or for the re-patriation of alleged co-ethnics from across the world.
The panel will look at these different types of migration in comparative perspective and search for similar motives. One crucial element in this is hope, or the desire to find a new home where life is more promising than the one currently experienced. Not all these movements have thereby to be fuelled by despair but the experience of precarity of one kind or another, or the worry to face one in the future, is a powerful booster for migration in all the cases observed. In this panel we will look at both labor migration (mostly to Russia and Turkey) and at the re-patriation of Kazak diasporas to Kazakstan to carve out the common themes as well as the differences when it comes to the role of hope and despair in people's moves.