New marriage strategies of Kazakh repatriates from Mongolia and China in Zheti Suw
(Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)
After the collapse of the Soviet Union Kazakhstan faced the challenge of embarking on new nation-building politics. Part of this politics was an invitation to the worldwide Kazakh diaspora to join their 'ancestral homeland'. Those ethnic Kazakhs who followed the invitation were assigned a kind of intermediate status of "oralman", or "returnee", after they moved to Kazakhstan. The majority of oralman in South Eastern Kazakhstan are from China and Mongolia. In this paper I am investigating new marriage strategies among oralman as well as difference between the statuses of local women and those from Mongolia and China that come along with this. As the oralman faced numerous difficulties integrating to the local society, one way to adapt into the new environment was by building up new marriage strategies, such as cross-affinal marriages ("karsy kuda"). Marriage takes place preferentially within the same group of oralman in order to tighten existing networks. These new strategies allowed practicing endogamy while at the same time still avoiding marrying within seven generations as this would be considered incest. This paper questions with whom do different groups of Kazakhs, oralman and local, prefer to build an alliance through marriage and with whom they don't. Do they expand their marriage choice, and if so why? What role do woman play role in marriage decisions? To what degree are marriages arranged and by whom?
Economic and social transformations in Kazakstan: The case of Zheti-Suw