SSRC Pre-Dissertation Fellow Brinton Ahlin

Impact of Hospitality on Post-Soviet Economic and Political Formations in Tajikistan

Anthropology, New York University

Location of Research: Tajikistan

Project Description:
My dissertation research uses Tajik conceptions of hospitality as a way of theorizing and understanding the transformations of trans-national labor migration in the post-Soviet period. Rather than study the effects of migration piecemeal, my approach builds on the locally salient practice of hospitality as a mediating device of local social life, tracing how it intersects with issues such as community emplacement, religious identity, and moral attitudes about good governance at home and abroad. Though early ethnographers of Central Asia did not write extensively on the topic of hospitality, its longstanding ubiquity in the region suggests that their fieldwork, like my fieldwork, was mediated by guest-host interactions. With the support of the SSRC Eurasia Program I will be travelling to St. Petersburg and Moscow in 2012 to examine field notes and other works of the ethnographer Mikhail Andreev, seeking traces of the hospitality interactions which were surely part of his day-to-day research activities albeit largely absent from published materials.

Brinton Ahlin has been a PhD student in the Anthropology Department at New York University since 2011. He first conducted research in Tajikistan during the summer of 2008 for a B.A. thesis on the relationship between migrant remittances and Tajik cultural practices. Upon completing his undergraduate education at the University of Chicago in 2009 he received a Fulbright-IIE award that gave him the opportunity to continue his research in Tajikistan while also volunteering at a children's book publishing company.

Policy Brief:
Implications of Hospitality Customs for Labor Migration Policy in Tajikistan [.pdf, 137kb]
Policy Brief #2013-01