Central Asian diaspora in the USA: the case of Kyrgyz Americans

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Bishkek, Nov. 14, 2017 /Kabar/. The Harriman Institute and the Kyrgyz American Foundation will hold a round table in New York on Nov. 17 to discuss the intersection of migration, mobility, and diaspora inquiries with a focus on the peculiarities of the Kyrgyz diaspora’s experience in the U.S.

The field of diaspora studies emerged in the late 20th Century in the wake of the collapse of socialist systems, political instabilities and nationalist movements in Europe, Asia, and Africa. The migration of people from the aforementioned regions, many from countries undergoing the process of political and economic development, marked the emergence of new diaspora politics along with a re-distribution of resources, powers, and opportunities in recipient countries.

The U.S. became a top destination for many migrants from Central Asia and other Asian countries. There are about 12.8 million people in the Asian diaspora, and Central Asians, in particular Kyrgyz Americans, make up the newest and smallest part. The Kyrgyz diaspora is still emerging and its formation story differs from that of other Central Asian diasporas, such as those from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The Kyrgyz started to arrive during the post-independence period of 1991, with the opening of the green card lottery. In the 2000s, in a time of frequent regime transitions, U.S. educational programs gained prominence in Kyrgyzstan. As economic conditions and political instability intensified, and the country saw increasing violations of human rights, a sense of hopelessness ensued and people began to move to the U.S.

The round table will bring together scholars from Kyrgyzstan and the U.S., as well as representatives of the Kyrgyz diaspora in the U.S.

The round table will be followed by a cultural program of traditional Kyrgyz music, food, and dance.

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