Featuring Madeleine Reeves, Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology, University of Manchester. She will present on “Working ‘from the soul’: moralizing wage labour in Kyrgyz transnational migration.”
Register for virtual event: http://bit.ly/REEES-MadeleineReeves
Discussions of work migration have often stressed how physical displacement can undermine the social value of work. In rural Kyrgyzstan, and perhaps especially in those regions marked by a strong tradition of mining and extractive industries, seasonal work in Russia allows for the articulation of a distinctive and gendered relationship between physically demanding labor, economic compensation and moral reward: one, I argue, that resonates with a much older, socialist ethic of the value of physical labor. This is despite the obvious irony that much of the work in which migrants are engaged in Russia—contingent, unregulated, without the protections of contract or compensation in case of injury and death—is the very opposite of the institutionally protected, socially recognized, highly regulated state-oriented labor that characterized the Soviet system. This presentation takes this tension as a starting point for a reflection on questions of value and the (re-)moralization of wage work after socialism.