Ageing and (im)mobility: gendered experiences of growing old in Tajikistan in the context of mass labor migration

Swetlana Torno

This ethnographic project brings anthropological literature on ageing in transnational contexts and theorizations of (im)mobility into one analytical frame to study the movement of elders in/from Tajikistan across temporal, spatial, and gendered scales in the context of mass labor migration. It engages the concept of ‘relational dynamics of mobility’, which stresses that the movement of people, ideas, capital, and goods is differential (by gender, age, time, class etc.) and mutually constitutive in the sense that the mobility of one individual, category or social group can facilitate, shape or constrain the mobility of others. The study seeks to shed light on four sets of questions: first, how do (im)mobilities of Tajik senior citizens, their children, and different categories of kin interrelate and constitute each other? What types and modes of mobility do they facilitate, shape, or constrain? Second, how are (im)mobilities experienced and interpreted by elders? What types of (im)mobilities do they endorse and actively promote? Third, how does mobility reconfigure intergenerational care relations? How is eldercare negotiated between mobile and immobile family members? Fourth, how are (im)mobilities of elders gendered? How are they linked to gender roles and (im)mobilities over the life course?

The study is situated in the context of mass labor migration that has developed into a major means of livelihood for about half of Tajik households following the dissolution of the USSR and elevated Tajikistan to one of the most remittance-dependent countries worldwide. It considers the (im)mobilizing effects of the Coronavirus pandemic on generational relations and care flows and addresses elderly people’s transnational medical travel and the pilgrimage to Mecca as sites of social innovation.

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