Immobility and the re-imaginings of ethnic identity among Mongolian Kazakhs in the 21st century Academic Article uri icon


  • 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Accompanying the dissolution of the USSR and the formation of new nation states in the 1990s, nearly half of Mongolian Kazakhs migrated from their adopted home of Mongolia to the imagined homeland of Kazakhstan. By 2000, a sizable percentage returned to Mongolia. In explaining their decisions to stay in or to return to Mongolia, the Kazakhs we interviewed cite several culturally specific factors. Place identities, as expressed through cultural elements of religiosity, kinship ties, and language versatility, tie Mongolian Kazakhs strongly to western Mongolia while meta-narratives about diaspora and homeland prescribe identity with Kazakhstan. Utilizing life history interviews, participant observation, and questionnaire data we argue that Mongolian Kazakhs actively employ narratives of their cultural history to re-create and re-establish place identities in Mongolia and ultimately re-imagine Mongolian-Kazakh community and identity. These recreated place identities have emerged among Mongolian-Kazakhs who chose to remain immobile or return migrated from the 'homeland' of Kazakhstan.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 3.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Barcus, H. R., & Werner, C.

citation count

  • 11

complete list of authors

  • Barcus, Holly R||Werner, Cynthia

publication date

  • January 2015