Graduate Studies, Student Voices, Sociology & Anthropology

Travel Report: Gyuzel Kamalova, Sociology and Anthropology

November 23, 2018

From Graduate Studies...

Gyuzel Kamalova, a Master’s student in Anthropology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, received a Graduate International Research Travel Award (GIRTA) to further her 2018 research in Almaty and Taraz. Her report: 

I received the Graduate International Research Travel Award in Spring of 2018 to help fund my field trip to Almaty and Taraz, Kazakhstan. My MA research focused on the experiences of orphanage graduates in Almaty and Taraz.

The Kazakhstani government proposed closing down orphanages and opting for fostering system instead. However, neither fostering nor adoption are popular practices in Kazakhstan. The image of orphanage children as deviant, unhealthy and incapable is perpetuated in media reports and is continuously reinforced by the administration of orphanages. This undermines a smooth transition from institutionalization to fostering proposed by the government, and, more importantly, affects the lives of orphans as they face various levels of discrimination upon graduation.  

I conducted my ethnographic fieldwork for the period of one month. During that month, I interviewed 28 research participants, visited a local orphanage for children with disabilities, and NGOs helping orphans and orphanage graduates.

This research was intended to create space for orphanage graduates to construct their own narratives as a way of challenging the dominant views of orphans as deviant, unhealthy and incapable of living outside the institutional walls.