"Institutional childhood: Negotiating identities post-orphanage in Kazakhstan"

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-04-08
Identifier: 
etd20150
Keywords: 
Orphanage
Kazakhstan
Institutional childhood
Identity
Stigma
Shame
Abstract: 

This ethnography is based on 28 interviews with orphanage graduates, orphanage staff, volunteers, NGOs and adoptive parents conducted in February, 2018 in Almaty and Taraz, Kazakhstan. Former President Nazarbayev’s call for deinstitutionalization of orphanages following a similar program in Russia, put orphans and orphanages under the spotlight. However, the increasing number of discussions and public activism around deinstitutionalization of orphanages in Kazakhstan does not adequately address the issues faced by orphanage graduates. Specifically, public discourse still stigmatizes orphans and orphanage graduates as indicated by low adoption rates, and high adoptee return rates. I employ Michel Foucault’s (1975) productivity of power, and Erving Goffman’s (1963) stigma to discuss the effects of institutional childhood and the ways orphanage graduates make sense of their experiences during and post-institutionalization. I argue against criminalizing and victimizing narratives of orphanhood in Kazakhstan, and instead suggest that orphanage graduates can employ strategies to negotiate their identities, and exercise agency in navigating their institutional and post-institutional lives.

Document type: 
Thesis
Rights: 
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Sonja Luehrmann
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.
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