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Kinship and Sedentarization in Central Asian Urban Areas of Hailar, Ulan-Ude and Ulaanbaatar


Research grant from the National Science Centre, OPUS 13, 2017/25/B/HS3/00675


Duration: 2018-2020

Project coordinator: Zbigniew Szmyt

Research team: Ivan Peshkov, Katarzyna Golik


Project description


The project aims to analyze the transformation of kinship and residency systems during the period of peripheral urbanization in post-Socialist Central Asia, including:


1. Connections between the transformation and spatial dimension of sedentarization.

2. Effects of the transformation on institutional aspects of migrants’ adaptation.

3. Impact of the transformation on migrants’ preferred models of urban infrastructure usage.


Research hypothesis


The exponential growth of nomads’ migration to cities located resulting from the breakdown of collective forms of pastoral economic activity as well as a cattle privatization has the following characteristic dimensions:


1. Spatial dimension (key role of the suburbs and the areas surrounding cities)

2. Institutional dimension (synthesis of formal and informal institutions and development of new forms of social capital based on kinship system and territorial solidarity)

3. Infrastructural dimension (illegal use of urban and suburban infrastructure as well as – in the cases of Mongolia and Buryatia – relocation of rural houses and yurts from pastoral areas to the suburbs).


A key element of the above-mentioned aspects is the influence exerted by “urbanization” of the kinship system and the hybrid forms of solidarity on new city residents’ daily adaptation.


The project verifies and develops theoretical determinants of kinship studies in anthropology (i.e., local aspects of the relationships between the nominal, legal, and practical levels of kinship), urban studies (specificity of pastoral sedentarization in post-Socialist cities), and neo-institutional economics (relationship between mass migration and the synthesis of formal and informal institutions). The transborder region analyzed in this project is an important element of the New Silk Road program, i.e. the “northern Mongol-Russian infrastructural corridor.” Because of this, both the positive and negative reactions on the part of the regions’ indigenous peoples to radical structural changes determine the Russo-Chinese relations that are of key importance to the Polish national interest (raison d'État). The results of the research conducted within the project will also allow for optimizing aid and development programs assisting slums and suburbs residents of northern Asian cities.

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