Reconstituting Transnational Families: An Ethnography of Family Practices between Kyrgyzstan and Russia

  • Medina Aitieva

Student thesis: Phd


This dissertation examines transnational family practices between Kyrgyzstan and Russia. Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan experienced intensive internal and external mobilities. As one of the poorest Soviet republics, independent Kyrgyzstan continued to battle with poverty and high unemployment, which pushed nearly 20% of its population to seek jobs internationally. Transnational families have become a norm for Kyrgyzstan that receives the equivalent of one-third of its GDP in remittances. Using the transnational perspective, I explored the role of migration in reconstituting 'family practices' (Morgan, 1996, 2013). In a multi-sited ethnography of family life between Alcha village and Yakutsk city, the study demonstrates the everyday lives of transnational family members maintaining ties across time and space. Treating families as groups of configurations, rather than households, the study illustrates the multitude of family and kin relationships and networks that family members are embedded in. Through the examination of remittances and monetary ties, communal celebrations, arrangements of caregiving in migrants' absence, the study describes the contradictory effects of migration. I argue that migration has dramatically transformed and reconstituted family life. Divided and fragmented, Kyrgyzstani transnational families continued to maintained strong ties with home. I demonstrate that transnational families coped with the contradictory consequences of migration that shifted the family meanings, practices, constitution, and architecture of Kyrgyz family lives. The dissertation argues that Kyrgyzstani families, characterized by extended family relations, are nonetheless increasingly engaged in nuclear family type of relations in the transnational social fields.
Date of Award1 Aug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorNicholas Thoburn (Supervisor) & Madeleine Reeves (Supervisor)


  • labour migration
  • multi-sited ethnography
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • transnational families
  • family practices

Cite this