Polygyny in Kyrgyzstan: Motivations of First and Second Wives

Wednesday, May 1, 2019
1201 International Affairs Building (420 West 118th St, 12th floor)

Please join us for a lecture by Michele Commercio, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Vermont.

Although scholars agree that polygyny is practiced in post-Soviet Central Asia, they have not studied the causes or consequences of this marital practice in any detail. Michele Commercio will discuss her research on polygyny in Kyrgyzstan, which is based on extensive fieldwork, and argue that marital status, familial benefits, and financial security motivate women to remain married to men who have taken second wives, while marital status, financial security, and the opportunity to reproduce motivate women to wed married men.

Michele Commercio specializes in Russian and Central Asian comparative politics. Her research interests include regime transition, ethnic politics, gender, and Islam. Professor Commercio's research has been funded by IREX, NCEEER, APSA, and the University of Vermont. Her work appears in Politics, Groups, and Identities, Political Science Quarterly, Studies in Comparative International Development, Nationalities Papers, and Problems of Post-Communism and Post-Soviet Affairs. Professor Commercio's book, Russian Minority Politics in Post-Soviet Latvia and Kyrgyzstan: The Transformative Power of Informal Networks, was published in 2010 with the University of Pennsylvania Press. She is currently writing a book on the political economy of polygynous marriages in Central Asia. Her next project will explore the political participation of women in Kyrgyzstan.