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Accepted Paper:

Polygyny among migrants from Central Asia in the Russian Federation  

Author:

Anna Cieslewska (Jagiellonian University (Krakow), University of Bialystok)

Paper short abstract:

This presenation will focus on transnational polygamous marriages of migrants from Central Asia in Russia and how transnational polygynous practices influence people’s understanding of marriage, love and family.

Paper long abstract:

This presenation will focus on transnational polygamous marriages of migrants from Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan) in Russia and how transnational polygynous practices influence people’s understanding of marriage, love and family. It will show how polygamous migrant marriages are negotiated between families, by presenting the perspective of individuals involved in such relationships in Russia. I argue that contemporary forms of polygyny practiced by migrants include a wide range of family practices, some of which emerged only recently due to changing migration circumstances. Transborder marriages create different forms of relationships, which contribute to changing social interactions since people live and work in two, and sometimes even more countries. Migration further creates opportunities for parallel partnering, and a variety of other options, which impact on family networks in the countries of origin. Consequently, I perceive transborder polygyny as an opportunity for change in marriage patterns in the region, for example by giving migrants more freedom to select a spouse. In this context, polygyny is one of the available options, and perception of migrants involved in such relationships differ depending on their life situation.

The material was collected during field research conducted for two months in 2017, two and a half months in 2018, and one month in 2019, in Moscow. It includes various stories of polygamous marriages that I came across while conducting research on migration and religiosity. The presenation will also draw on some of my experiences from various research and stays in Central Asia between 2006 and 2015 .

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