I am a social anthropologist with a background in the study of social and political thought and Russian and Soviet history. I received my MA from the University of Chicago and my BA and PhD from the University of Cambridge. I joined the University of Manchester in 2007, initially as an RCUK Research Fellow in Conflict, Cohesion and Change in the ESRC Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC), and subsequently as a lecturer in the Social Anthropology discipline area. Since 1999 I have conducted ethnographic research in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Russia, on issues of borders, citizenship, place and the politics of mobility.
International collaborations and public engagement
I have a longstanding interest in the reconfiguration of social scientific knowledge in Central Asia after socialism, and issues of conceptual translation between Russophone and Anglophone anthropology. This has resulted in a number of collaborative projects. From 2001-3 I conducted a case study of higher education reform in Kyrgyzstan for a major Open University/Association of Commonwealth Universities project on the role of higher education in social transformation. With Alan de Young and Galina Valyayeva I have published on the impact of market reforms on secondary and higher education in Kyrgyzstan, and between 2005 and 2007 I developed a Resource Book for the Aga Khan Humanities Project for Central Asia in Dushanbe.
I have been a member of the Resource Faculty for the Central Asia Research and Training Initiative and between 2006 and 2009 co-directed the Regional Seminar for Excellence in Teaching on Nationhood and Narrative in Central Asia: History, Context, Critique with Nina Bagdasarova. This project, supported with grants from the Higher Education Support Program of the Open Society Institute and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, brought together a network of 35 junior and established scholars for an ongoing series of meetings, including three summer institutes at Yssyk-Köl in Kyrgyzstan (2006-8) and a series of shorter thematic workshops. The project has resulted in the development of a multi-authored Russian language resource CD on Nationhood and Narrative in Central Asia, published in 2010.
I currently serve as Editor of Central Asian Survey and a member of the advisory board for the Central Asian Studies Institute at the American University-Central Asia. I write regularly on Central Asia for OpenDemocray.net and since 2012 have been a member of the advisory board for the Central Eurasian Scholars and Media Initiative. I serve on the advisory group for Kyrgyzstan for the Global Centre for Pluralism and as a mentor for the Central Asia and Afghanistan Research Fellowship Program of the University of Central Asia.