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The transformation of everyday labor in Central Asia: linking migration, precarity, and informality 
Eugenia Pesci (University of Helsinki)
Madina Gazieva (Dublin City Univeristy)
Alexander Maier (Columbia University)
Kairatbek Dzhamangulov (National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic)
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Giulio Benedetti (Stockholm School of Economics in Riga)
Sociology & Social Issues
704 (Floor 7)
Friday 7 June, -
Time zone: Asia/Almaty


Recent scholarship on Central Asia has highlighted the intimate connection between labor precarisation and increased labor outmigration (Kangas et al.2023), brought about by market reforms, in particular by land privatization (Sanghera and Satybaldieva, 2021). As previous studies have shown, precarity is common both to migrant labor and informal workers: however, these areas of social research are often treated separately.

Building on this, this panel explores the transnational dimension of labor precarity in Central Asia, which spills into all aspects of life, from daily agricultural workers to labor migrants facing discrimination and bureaucratic barriers. By focusing on the lived experiences of informality, both at home and abroad, the presentations aim to give voice to those who have been affected by the spread of precarious and casual labor throughout the region.

Our panel brings together research on out migration and informal seasonal work in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Pesci and Benedetti draw on the lived experiences of women working at informal agricultural birzha in Kyrgyzstan to explore how precarious workers, in particular women in migrant families, navigate spaces of precarious and casual labor. Gazieva looks at how smallholder producers who supply the bulk of informal seasonal work on large farms in Uzbekistan are impacted by the transformation of agricultural policies and shows the gendered implications of land and water enclosures on social reproduction of the household.

Maier focuses on the case of Tajik migrant workers applying for seasonal jobs in Great Britain to explore ways they navigate bureaucratic barriers and interact with intermediaries. The paper provides an account of the moral economy of labor migration, and focuses on how new experiences of migration provide workers with an idiom for critiquing previous experiences of undocumented labor in Russia. Finally, Dzhamangulov considers the role of intermediaries in shaping new infrastructure of migration from Kyrgyzstan to the European Union. He looks at the interplay between formal and informal actors along this route, and at changing forms of organization of labor migration from a mixed methods perspective.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Friday 7 June, 2024, -