Wednesday, August 31st


Associate Professor

Ph.D., Indiana University, 1997

Specialty: economic anthropology, gender, migration, risk, Central Asia

Current Research Projects: Since 2004, I have been conducting research on the transnational migration of Mongolia’s Kazakh population. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Mongolia’s Kazakh population started to migrate to the newly independent Republic of Kazakhstan, a location that is newly imagined as their homeland. This is a collaborative project with Holly Barcus, a geographer at Macalester College. We are interested in the factors that shape individual and family decisions to migrate or stay in place. We are also interested in how gender shapes migration decisions and migration impacts, and the role that kin-based social networks play in helping to maintain transnational networks and social identities.

Since 2001, I have been conducting research on the legacy of nuclear testing in northeastern Kazakhstan. This is a collaborative project (with environmental chemist Kathleen Purvis-Roberts at the Claremont Colleges). After World War Two, the Soviet Union developed a major nuclear test site in northeastern Kazakhstan that served as the location for 116 above-ground tests and 340 underground tests between 1949 and 1989. Our project involves interviews and surveys with Kazakh and Russian villagers who live near the Polygon, health care workers in the region most affected by nuclear testing, and research scientists who work at the former test site. We are interested in how perceptions of risk vary across these groups. We are also interested in the politics of risk, as the victims of nuclear testing struggle to find justice in the form of compensation and quality health care.

Courses Taught: Introduction to Sociocultural Anthropology, Women and Culture, Cultures of Central Asia, Applied Anthropology, Ethnographic Field Methods, Ethics and Professionalism in Anthropology

Current Graduate Students: Evan Stewart, Jessica Dangott, Hulya Dogan, Savannah Hicks Francois, Margie Serrato, Jianping Yang

Representative Publications:

Cynthia Werner and Holly Barcus (2010) “The Kazakhs of Western Mongolia: Transnational Migration from 1990-2008” Asian Ethnicity 11(2):209-228.

Cynthia Werner (2009) “Bride Abduction in Post-Soviet Central Asia: Marking a Shift Towards Patriarchy through Local Discourses of Shame and Tradition” Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute 15:314-331.

Cynthia Werner and Kathleen Purvis-Roberts (2006) “After the Cold War: International Politics, Domestic Policy, and the Nuclear Legacy in Kazakhstan” Central Asian Survey 25(4):461-480.

Cynthia Werner (2003) “The New Silk Road: Mediators and Tourism Development in Post-Soviet Central Asia.” Ethnology 42(2):141-59.

Cynthia Werner (2000) “Gifts, Bribes and Development in Post-Soviet Kazakhstan” Human Organization 59(1):11-22.