Some information about me
I am a Social Anthropologist affiliated to CRESC and the Research Institute for Cosmopolitan Cultures (RICC). My research focuses on the way in which state space and state categories (of legal and illegal residence; of citizen and non-citizen; of ‘titular’ ethnic group and national minority) are produced and ruptured in everyday life. I have been particularly keen to explore these questions in sites where the authority of the state – who represents ‘it’; where exactly it is located; what it can rightfully demand of its citizens – has been open to contestation. This has led me, since 1999, to conduct research in Kyrgyzstan and in neighbouring districts of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, initially for an undergraduate dissertation (University of Cambridge, 1999); later for MA and doctoral work (University of Chicago, 2000 and University of Cambridge, 2007), and currently for a post-doctoral project with CRESC (2007-2012).
During my doctoral research, between 2003 and 2007, I explored the everyday work entailed in ‘bordering’ the state in two regions of the Ferghana valley where everyday life has come to be transformed by the materialisation of new international boundaries. This project explored the interactions between border-guards, customs officers, traders, herders and border-crossing ferrymen through which a judicial boundary is practically enacted. In so doing, I have sought to take the production and contestation of ‘territorial integrity’ as an anthropological problem, looking at the work involved in bounding the state and the meanings of becoming ‘separate’ in a region of intense historical inter-dependence. I have published and presented this research in a number of formats: in 2009 I organised a panel on ‘territorial integrity’ for the CRESC Annual Conference; in 2011 I guest edited a double issue of Central Asian Survey on ‘Movement, Power and Place’, and a revised version of my doctoral dissertation, Border Work, is under contract with Cornell University Press, due for publication in 2012.
Since moving to CRESC, I have taken my interest in the anthropology of the state in new directions, through a research project (2008-12) that explores the vast ‘grey zone’ between legal and illegal residence and labour for Central Asian migrant workers in Russia. Empirically my focus has been on the migration regime that links Moscow to Bishkek and remittance-receiving villages of Batken region in southern Kyrgyzstan. I have focused on the dense and frequently shifting network of administrative regulations that determine the legality of residence and labour as well as on the ways that this particular grey zone is lived: the role of ‘clean fake’ documents in navigating urban space; the growth of ‘strategic citizenship’ as Kyrgyz migrant labourers seek to obtain temporary citizenship in Russia, and the ways in which the proliferation of trans-local relationships is transforming meanings of kinship, belonging, money and ‘home’. With Johan Rasanayagam (University of Aberdeen) and Judith Beyer (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle), I organised a workshop with funding from the Wenner Gren Foundation on the Anthropology of the State in Central Asia in September 2009, the papers from which are currently under review for publication as an edited collection. With Nikolai Sssoin-Chaikov at the University of Cambridge I convened a workshop in September 2010 on ‘Paperwork and Personhood in and After the Soviet Union’. I have presented this research at a workshop on ‘frontiers of legality’ at the European Association of Social Anthropologists in Maynooth, Ireland, as well as at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, at the 2010 CRESC annual conference in Oxford and at workshop meetings of Eastbordnet, a network of scholars studying the shifting borders of Europe, of which I am a member. In 2011 with Mateusz Laszczkowski I co-convened a workshop at the American Anthropological Association meetings on the intersections bewteen affect and politics. This is being coupled with a follow-up workshop in Manchester in May 2012 entitled 'Affective States: Exploring Emotion in Political Life'.
I am very happy to be approached by students considering graduate study under my supervision. My supervision interests include the anthropology of the state; the anthropology of space and mobility; the anthropology of borders and issues of migration, transnationalism, documentary regimes, informal economies and ‘unrecognised’ states. I have a long-standing interest in the anthropology of postsocialism and in the history of anthropology in and after the Soviet Union. Regionally, my areas of expertise are Central Asia and Russia.
I am currently the lead supervisor for Medina Aitieva, whose research into transnational familyhood in Kyrgyzstan is funded with a CRESC studentship and the support of the University of Central Asia.
I am co-supervisor for Ivan Rajkovic, whose doctoral project explores hope and potentiality in the remaking of a Serbian car-plant after socialism.
I am second supervisor for Hannah Wadle, whose research explores the politics of touristic encounters in a German-Polish borderland
I am on the supervisory team of Aminat Chokobaeva at the Australian National University, whose research explores the role of the 1916 'Great Revolt' in shaping national identity in Soviet and post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan.
I am the external supervisor for Till Mostowlansky at the University of Berne, whose doctoral dissertation is entitled 'Azan on the moon: entangling modernity along Tajikistan's Pamir Highway'.
Collaborations and public engagements
As an RCUK fellow, part of my job is to make my research accessible to a variety of different audiences and to develop new academic collaborations with scholars outside the UK. I have been involved in several academic projects with scholars from Central Asia, including the Aga Khan Humanities Project in Dushanbe, Tajikistan (for whom I was commissioned to compile a Resource Book for teachers of the Humanities); the OSI Academic Fellowship Programme, the Central Asian Research and Training Initiative (CARTI), for whom I have acted as a Faculty Member and International Scholar, and the Educational Initiatives Support Foundation in Bishkek. With Nina Bagdasarova in Bishkek I co-directed the three year HESP/OSI Regional Seminar on Nationhood and Narrative in Central Asia: History, Context, Critique (2006-9) and have co-edited an electronic collection of primary sources resulting from this project, available as a CD in Russian called Narrativnye osi natsional’nogo stroitel’stva v Tsentral’noi Azii (Bishkek, 2010). I am a member of the International Advisory Board of the newly-established Central Asian Studies Institute at the American University - Central Asia in Bishkek and in 2011 joined the Editorial Board of the journal, Central Asian Survey. In 2012 I was invited to the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Australian National University, where I co-supervise Aminat Chokobaeva's PhD. Closer to home I have been actively involved in the first Manchester Anthropology Day (MAD) in 2011 as well as the London Anthropology Day organised by the Royal Anthropological Institute.
Before embarking on my PhD I taught in the departments of Sociology and Cultural Anthropology at the American University Central Asia (AUCA), an institution with which I have maintained close links as a Research Fellow and external examiner. During my fieldwork in Kyrgyzstan and Russia in 2009-10, I returned to AUCA to present my research and was a visiting scholar at the Aigine Cultural Research Centre in Bishkek. In 2009 I was invited to take part as a Resource Faculty for the Regional Seminar, Building Anthropology in Eurasia at Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan and Tbilisi State University, Georgia.
I have published on Central Asia for non-scholarly audiences for the London Review of Books, OpenDemocracy.net, Radio Free Europe, Polit.ru, Ferghana.ru and LSE’s UK Politics and Policy Blog. I have also given interviews for television, newspaper and radio, including Channel 4 News, Russia Today, Voice of America, the BBC World Service, Danish Radio, Australian Radio and the BBC’s Russian, Uzbek and Kyrgyz language services. I have been invited to present to policy audiences at the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House), London and for the OSCE in Bishkek and the Hague.
I am currently teaching a 3rd year and MA optional course in the department of Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester entitled 'Afterlives of Soviet Socialism', an overview of which can be found here. Please drop me an email if you would like me to send you the complete syllabus for the course. I have previously taught courses on Social Theory, Qualitative Research Methods, Language, Ethnicity and Identity and introductory courses in Anthropology at the American University-Central Asia (2000-2002 and 2005) and the University of Cambridge (2006-7).
Reeves, M. (2012), Black work, green money: remittances, ritual and domestic economies in southern Kyrgyzstan. Slavic Review, 71 (1), 108-134.
Reeves, M., ed. (2011). Movement, Power and Place in and Beyond Central Asia. Guest Editor, Special Double Issue of the journal, Central Asian Survey, 30 (3-4). Selected essays from this volume have been reproduced in a Routledge book available in April 2012.
Reeves, M. (2011). 'Introduction: contested trajectories and a dynamic approach to place'. Central Asian Survey, 30 (3-4): 307-330.
Reeves, M. (2011). 'Staying put? Towards a relational politics of mobility at a time of migration'. Central Asian Survey, 30 (3-4): 555-576.
Reeves, M. (2011). 'Fixing the border: on the affective life of the state in southern Kyrgyzstan'. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 29 (5), pp. 905-923.
Bagdasarova, N. and Reeves, M. (eds) (2010). Nationhood and Narrative in Central Asia: History, Context, Critique/ Narativnye osi national’nogo stroitel’stva v Tsentral’noi Azii: Istoriia, Kritika, Kontekst. CD-Rom Sourcebook. Bishkek: Educational Initiatives Support Foundation.
Reeves, M. (2010). ‘On the documentary production of the ‘undocumented’ migrant in urban Russia’. Eastbordnet Working Paper No. 86.
Reeves, M. (2010). ‘A weekend in Osh’. London Review of Books, Vol. 32 (13), 8th July.
Reeves, M. (2010). ‘The latest revolution’. In Kyrgyzstan” London Review of Books, Vol. 32 (9), 13th May.
Reeves, M. (2010) « Migrations, masculinité et transformations de l’espace social dans la vallée de Sokh » in Marlene Laruelle (ed.), Dynamiques migratoires et changements sociétaux en Asie Centrale. Paris L’Harmatton : 131-147.
Rivz, M. [Reeves, M.] (2009) Po tu storonu ekonomicheskogo determinizma: mikrodinamki migratsii iż sel’skogo Kyrgyzstana’ [Beyond economic determinism: microdynamics of migration from rural Kyrgyzstan]. Neprikosnovennyi zapas, No. 4 (66), 2009: 262-280 (in Russian)
Reeves, M (2009) ‘Materialising state space: ‘Creeping migration’ and territorial integrity in Southern Kyrgyzstan’. Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 61 (7): 1277-1313; reprinted in S. Cummings (ed.) Symbolism and Power in Central Asia: Politics of the Spectacular. London: Routledge, 2010: 192-228.
Reeves, M (2008). ‘Materializing Borders’. Anthropology News, Vol. 49 (5), pp. 12-13
Reeves, M. (2007). ‘Travels in the margins of the state: everyday geography in the Ferghana Valley borderlands.’ In Jeff Sahadeo and Russell Zanca (eds), Everyday Life in Central Asia Past and Present. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, pp. 281-300
Rivs, M. [Reeves, M] (2007). ‘Ethnicity, language and categories of analysis in N. Kosmarskaya’s Deti imperii v post-sovetskoi tsetral’noi Azii’, Etnograficheskoe obozrenie, 2008, No. 2, pp. 24-29 (in Russian)
De Young, A., Reeves, M. and Valyayeva, G. (2006). Surviving the Transition? Case Studies of Schools and Schooling in the Kyrgyz Republic since Independence. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishers.
Reeves, M. (2005). ‘Unstable objects: corpses, checkpoints and “chessboard borders” in the Ferghana valley.’ Anthropology of East Europe Review, Vol. 25 (1), pp. 72-84 (Special Issue on The Movement of Goods and Identities Within and Beyond the Former Socialist World)
Reeves, M. (2005). ‘Locating danger: konfliktologiia and the search for fixity in the Ferghana Valley borderlands.’ Central Asian Survey, Vol. 24 (1), pp. 67-81 (Special Issue on Discourses of Danger in Central Asia)
Reeves, M. (2005). ‘Of Credits, Kontrakty and Critical Thinking: Encountering “Market Reforms” in Kyrgyzstani Higher Education.’ European Education Research Journal, Vol.4 (1), pp. 5- 21
Reeves, M. (2004). ‘Academic integrity and its limits in Kyrgyzstan’s higher education: a view from the margins.’ International Higher Education 35, pp. 36-39
Reeves, M. (2003). ‘Cultivating Citizens of a New Type? The Politics and Practice of Educational Reform at the American University in Kyrgyzstan’. In Alan De Young and Steve Heynman (eds.), Challenges of Education in Central Asia. Greenwich (CT): Information Age Publishers, pp. 365-385
'Foreign workers under threat in Russia'. Interview for The Stream, Al Jazeera, November 10 2011.
Moskvachylyk: Debating Authenticity and Transformation in a Moscow Migrant Community. CREES Noon Lecture, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Podcast of Lecture, November 17, 2010
‘Trouble in Kyrgyzstan’. Interview for Late Night Live, Australian Broadcasting Company, June 23, 2010.
Kirgizistonda ikki tillilik. [On bilingualism in Kyrgyzstan]. BBC Uzbek service, March 19 2012.
After Internationalism: the unmaking of Osh. ASEEES Newsnet, October 2011,
"Nelegaly": work and shelter in migrant Moscow. OpenDemocracy.net, April 26, 2011.
Osh report: quick conclusions, lost opportunities. OpenDemocracy.net, January 24, 2011
Getting to the roots of resentment in Kyrgyzstan, RFE/RL, July 4, 2010.
Why the UK should care what is happening in Kyrgyzstan, LSE Politics and Policy Blog, June 27 2010.
The ethnicisation of violence in Southern Kyrgyzstan, OpenDemocracy.net, June 21, 2010
Breaking point: why the Kyrgyz lost their patience, OpenDemocracy.net, April 19, 2010
Forthcoming/ in progress
Reeves, M. Border Work: An Ethnography of the State at its Limits in Central Asia. Under contract with Cornell University Press.
With Johan Rasanayagam and Judith Beyer, Performing Politics in Central Asia. Edited collection under review with Indiana University Press.
'Politics, cosmopolitics and preventive development at the Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan border'. For inclusion in Nina Glick Schiller and Andrew Irving (eds), Whose Cosmopolitanism?
ESRC Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC)
178 Waterloo Place
The University of Manchester
Manchester M13 9PL
Tel: +44 (0)161 275 8994
Refereed Journal Papers
Infrastructures of Social Change
This project explores ethnographically the materialization of a new international border in Central Asia’s Ferghana valley. How is a new border made to ‘stick’, socially and materially, in a...
This project is an ethnographic study of the circulation of documents, feelings and legal claims amongst migrant workers from southern Kyrgyzstan who live and work in Moscow. Kyrgyzstan is...
Thu, May 17th 2012 - Fri, May 18th 2012
The aim of this workshop is to bring a critical discussion of affect into debate with an anthropology of the state as a way of working towards a more coherent, ethnographically sensitive and fine-grained approach to the role of affect in political life.