Staying put? Towards a relational politics of mobility at a time of migration

Madeleine Reeves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Most research on labour migration from Central Asia has explored the motivations and strategies of those who move. Comparatively less attention has been given to the experience of family members who stay behind. This paper draws on ethnographic research amongst the wives of migrant husbands in a site of gendered out-migration in eastern Uzbekistan to explore diverse experiences of staying put. Whilst spousal absence is experienced by some women as expanding the possibilities for social and spatial mobility, for others it can exacerbate the degree of control exerted by in-laws. Through this ethnography the author argues for a relational politics of mobility: that is, attention to the ways in which the movement of some can constrain (or compel) the mobility of others. Gendered out-migration is both embedded in, and transforms, the domestic organization of honour (nomus), in ways that are socially consequential. In Central Asia, the author argues, a richer understanding of labour migration can be gained by bringing different scales of movement into the same analytical frame and by attending ethnographically to the habitual production of place. © 2011 Copyright Southseries Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-576
Number of pages21
JournalCentral Asian Survey
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011


  • domestic space
  • gender
  • honour
  • migration
  • mobility
  • Uzbekistan


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