The political economy of polygamous marriages among the Kyrgyz with Michele Commercio – Isthmus


UW Center for Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia (CREECA) Conference, Room 206.

press release: There is very little academic literature on polygyny among Central Asians in general and Kyrgyz in particular. This lecture, based on the forthcoming book by Michele Commercio, will explore the normalization of polygamy among Kyrgyz in contemporary Kyrgyzstan, which criminalizes such unions, from a historical perspective. By normalization, she means the implicit tolerance of undisguised polygynous marriages at mass and elite levels of Kyrgyz society within a state that is obligated but neglects to penalize men with multiple wives. During the lecture, Commercio will explain how communist institutions gradually limited the rate of undisguised polygynous marriages among Kyrgyz people, and how the collapse of these institutions, combined with persistent hegemonic constructs of gender, gradually contributed to the re-emergence undisguised polygynous marriages among the Kyrgyz. .

About the speaker: Professor Michele Commercio specializes in the comparative politics of Central Asia. Her research interests include issues related to regime transition, ethnic politics, gender and Islam in post-Soviet states. Professor Commercio’s most recent research has been funded by IREX, NCEEER, APSA and the University of Vermont. His work appears in Central Asian Studies, Central Asian Affairs, Politics, Groups, and Identities, Politics and Gender, Political Science Quarterly, Studies in Comparative International Development, Nationalities Papers, Problems of Post-Communism and Post-Soviet Affairs. Professor Commercio’s first book, “Russian Minority Politics in Post-Soviet Latvia and Kyrgyzstan: The Transformative Power of Informal Networks”, was published in 2010 with University of Pennsylvania Press. Her second book, accepted for publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press, analyzes the political economy of polygamous marriages among Kyrgyz people. Her current research focuses on the barriers that women seeking careers in Kyrgyz politics face as well as the barriers that women in Kyrgyz politics face.

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