I came to the field of anthropology following my undergraduate studies in Russian language and literature, including at Wellesley College and as a study abroad student at the Herzen Pedagogical Institute in Leningrad, U.S.S.R. In the early 1990s as a doctoral student in cultural anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh I conducted research in Siberia on the history and experience of residential schooling among indigenous Siberian Evenki. After completing my Ph.D. and spending nearly three years as a post-doctoral fellow working closely with Siberian collections at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, I joined the UBC faculty.
Inspired by the explosion in mobility that was shaping daily lives in Siberia, in the early-to-mid 2000s my research interests turned toward the new forms of border crossing emerging across Eurasia, and especially transnational Russian-speaking communities in Istanbul, Moscow, Vancouver, and southern Moldova. In recent years my work has focused increasingly on undocumented migrants and their families, in particular those from sub-Saharan French speaking African countries of Congo and Cameroon, and the NGOs and state structures with which they intersect in France and Russia.
At UBC I have sought to expand spaces for intellectual exchange on issues of transnational mobility and also on the study of Eurasia. I have supervised a wide range of graduate student projects based in Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Taiwan, Turkey, the Philippines, and the United States that have focused on questions of memory, migration, post-socialism, and gender and transnationalism.
Migration, mobility and immobility, anthropology of gender, statelessness, motherhood, ethnographic methods and writing, socialist cultures and projects of modernity, Eurasia, Russia, Turkey, peoples of Siberia
Over the past two decades I have researched the transformations of social life brought about by the end of socialism in the former Soviet Union and the forms of mobility that have shaped the region. In my first two monographs based on research in Russia (Red Ties and Residential Schools: Indigenous Siberians in a Post-Soviet State, and Museum at the End of the World: Encounters in the Russian Far East, both published with the University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003 and 2004) I examined how people from the former Soviet Union navigated the dramatic changes in their communities and cultural institutions, such as schools and museums, in central Siberia and the Russian Far East of the mid-to-late 1990s. More recently I have traced how massive migration out of and into the region of the former Soviet Union has shaped aspirations and intimate ties between people, a subject at the crux of my multi-sited research among post-Soviet labor migrants moving between Istanbul, Moscow, and southern Moldova (Sex, Love, and Migration: Postsocialism, Modernity and Intimacy from Istanbul to the Arctic, Cornell University Press 2017). In my current research based in Russia I am examining the conditions and experiences of mobility and immobility among non-citizens and their families whose efforts to seek asylum involve state structures, NGOs, and Russian citizen activists.
“Stateless in Russia: Migrant Women, Children, and Social Abandonment”, funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (2014-2019)
I welcome inquires about graduate supervision. Currently I am supervising two PhD students:
- Hilal Esranur Kina, writing on “Contested Pasts: An Exploration in Memory in Northeastern Turkey”
- Lara Sarlak, writing on “Infrastructures of the Displaced: A Case Study of Istanbul”
While I am especially interested in students who aim to conduct research in what can be considered Eurasia, broadly defined, I would also welcome hearing from those planning research elsewhere with interests in migration, gender, and/or transnationalism; my PhD students have worked across the globe:
- Anastasia Rogova (2020), Russian-Speaking Immigrants in Canada: Belonging, Political Subjectivity, and Struggle for Recognition
- Gregory Gan (2019), Russia Outside Russia: Transnational Mobility and Imagination among Russian Migrants to Paris, Berlin, and New York
- Dada Docot (2018), Anthropology of the Hometown: The Work of Migration and Intimacy in the Town of Dollars, Philippines
- Oralia Gómez-Ramírez (2017), “We are Trans Women”: On-Street Sex Work and Transgender Politics in Mexico City
- Huma Mohibullah (2017), “Where Are the Moderate Muslims?” Fraught Muslim Positionalities in Post-9/11 New York City.
- Sungsook Lim (2016), The Politics of Transnational Welfare Citizenship: Kin, State, and Personhood among Older Sakhalin Koreans.
- Marie-Eve Carrier Moissan (2012), Of Affect and Mobility: Ambiguous Intimacies in Sex Tourism, Northeast Brazil.
- Susan M. Hicks (2011), Between Indigeneity and Nationality: The Politics of Culture and Nature in Russia’s Diamond Province.
- 2019. “Noncitizens and Spaces of Reprieve in Putin’s Russia.” Anthropology News website, January 15.
- 2017. “‘Othermothers’, Migration, and a Transnational Nurturing Nexus”. Signs: Journal of Women in Society and Culture. 43(1): 53-75.
- 2014 “Citizenship, Belonging, and Moldovan Migrants in Post-Soviet Russia,” Ethnos. 79(4):445-472.
- 2012 “Multiculturalism, Meanings of Citizenship, and Russian-Speaking Immigrants in Vancouver, Canada.” In Cultural Difference and Social Solidarity: Dividing and Uniting Communities, Beyond Multiculturalism, Scott Boyd, ed. Cambridge Scholars Press. UK: Cambridge Scholars Press. Pp.72-85.
- 2011 “Emotion Work, Shame, and Post-Soviet Women Entrepreneurs: Negotiating Ideals o Gender and Labor in a Global Economy,” Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. 18(4): 317-351.
- 2011 “Intimate Circuits: Modernity, Mobility, and Marriage among Post-Soviet Labor Migrants in Turkey,” Global Networks: A Journal of Transnational Affairs. 11(4): 502-521.
- 2009 “Discourses on Danger and Dreams of Prosperity: Confounding U.S. Government positions on ‘Trafficking’ from the Context of the former Soviet Union.” In International Migration and Human Rights: The Global Repercussions of US Policy. S. Martinez, ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, pp.165-183.
- 2017. Sex, Love and Migration: Postsocialism, Modernity, and Intimacy from Istanbul to the Arctic. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
- 2004 The Museum at the End of the World: Encounters in the Russian Far East; co-authored with Laurel Kendall. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
- 2003 Red Ties and Residential Schools: Indigenous Siberians in a Post-Soviet State. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Department of Anthropology and Sociology “Outstanding Teaching Award” | Killam Faculty Research Fellowship, University of British Columbia, Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Fund for Advanced Studies| Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, Early Career Scholar | 2004 | 2006 | 2003
Migration and Transnationalism, Anthropology of Gender, Statelessness, Ethnographic Methods and Writing, Socialist Cultures and Projects of Modernity, Eurasia, Peoples of Siberia.