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Renegotiating Integration: Dual Citizenship and the Mobilisation of Social Networks of Mongolia’s Kazakhs

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This article explores the highly disputed modes of migration and integration of Mongolia’s Kazakhs after the break- up of the Soviet Union in 1991. Over the past two decades, Kazakh migrants from Mongolia and their kin, still living predominantly in the remote Bayan- Ölgiy aymag [province], have developed transnational social networks. During multi- sited ethnographic fieldwork from 2006 to 2009, interviews with migrants and their relatives in and around Almaty and in Ölgiy revealed how circular migration of a significant proportion of Western Mongolia’s Kazakh population during the past two decades is interrelated to novel patterns of transnational social interaction. Enriching the existing literature, this article looks more specifically at the context in which transnational ties are enacted, both utilising and subverting official state policies. It aims to deconstruct dominant perceptions of the non- migrant population and state rhetoric in Kazakhstan that depict such practices as signifying refusal of ‘integration’. By so doing, I want to argue that these practices serve as a vital factor in livelihood strategies of migrants to cope with socio- economic uncertainty, predatory state bureaucracies and divergent discourses of integration.

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Development Studies (ZELF), Freie Universität Berlin, Germany


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