Migration into ‘Illegality’ and the Making of the State in Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan: The Case of a Squatter Settlement in Bishkek
Migration current within Kyrgyzstan is directed toward the capital and biggest city of the country – Bishkek – in search of employment and better life. However, limited resources, struggling economy and a relatively expensive rental payment for private housing have prevented the city to absorb the population influx. Thus internal migrants are forced to seek low-cost living in the outskirts of Bishkek with very poor or absent infrastructure and social services.
The proposed study will take place in squatter settlements in Bishkek which internal migrants illegally seized in the aftermath of two popular revolts that resulted in the growth and expansion of Bishkek – both demographic and geographic wise. Numerous new settlements which popped up on the edges of the city and quickly mushroomed within a short time.
Through the analysis of migrants’ life in Bishkek, this project aims to examine the changes and dynamics in the state-society relationship. If the Soviet state’s welfare system still makes a significant proportion of Kyrgyzstanis long for socialism, nowadays they complain about the independent Kyrgyz state, which is partially withdrawing itself from the population.
In order to study this changing relationship, this project focuses on everyday life experiences of squatters and their understanding of governance, state and citizenship.
Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Zurich