The Unequal Burdens of Repatriation: A Gendered View of the Transnational Migration of Mongolia's Kazakh Population
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© 2015 by the American Anthropological Association. Beginning in 1992, the newly independent government of Kazakhstan has facilitated the in-migration of 944,000 Kazakhs from neighboring countries, with the majority migrating as family units. Using the post-Soviet repatriation of Kazakhs as an example, we illustrate in this article how socially constituted notions about gender and kinship help reinforce institutional and informal power structures that favor men at three different points in the migration process: in making the decision to migrate, in dealing with the bureaucratic aspects of migration, and in facing the consequences of migration. First, patriarchal power dynamics often mean that women have less influence than men on the decision to migrate. Second, the legal framework for repatriation is based on an implicit assumption that Kazakh households correspond to a patriarchal model, and this has financial consequences for women. Third, transnational migration widens the physical separations from natal kin that women already experience due to Kazakh kinship practices that emphasize patrilineal descent, clan-based exogamy, and patrilocal marriage.
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