Accepted Paper:

Kinwork and transnational kids: mobility between Russia and Kyrgyzstan  


Alexia Bloch (University of British Columbia)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines practices of “kinwork” (Di Leonardo 1986) that are negotiated by migrant Kyrghyz women who give birth in Moscow, and then send children home to live. These patterns point to the role kinwork plays for migrants who maintain ties across shifting transnational social fields.

Paper long abstract:

As thousands of people travel to Russia from Central Asia as labor migrants each year, women from Kyrgyzstan especially make up a growing portion of these migrants. Drawing on recent ethnographic research, this paper considers the transnational practices of "kinwork" and caregiving that are negotiated by many Kirghiz women who give birth in Moscow, but then send children to be cared for by relatives back home. The Kyrgyz women engage in "kinwork" as a means of forging security for their children across transnational social fields which are rapidly shifting as their options for legal work conditions also change over time. Migrants' strategies of arranging care also change as children mature; first, when children are born a relative often stays with mothers in Moscow and assists for several months after birth, and then around a year young children are sent to live with relatives in Kyrgyzstan. Increasingly, as Kyrghyz migrants get more settled in Moscow, they seek to bring children back to Moscow in hopes that the children can enrol in school. At each stage kin are critical in providing support, whether in Kyrgyzstan or in Moscow. Bringing Micaela Di Leonardo's classic work on kinwork as essential to maintaining household social status together with Nina Glick-Schiller's work on social fields, this paper considers how Kyrgyz migrant women's kinwork in transnational social fields is key to maintaining household ties, social status, and economic security across generations.

Panel Mig03
Temporalities, migration and home: comparative perspectives