Deborah Dergousoff

Term Lecturer
Sociology & Anthropology


Deborah received her PhD in Sociology from Simon Fraser University in 2014.  Her dissertation, An Institutional Ethnography of Women Entrepreneurs and Post-Soviet Rural Economies in Kyrgyzstan, involved a year of research in Kyrgyzstan in 2010-2011, during which time she taught in the Department of Sociology at the American University of Central Asia (AUCA). Her dissertation applies institutional ethnography to examine the processes through which training programs are brought to and taken up by residents of a remote mountainous village in Kyrgyzstan. Her objective was to understand the disjuncture between decades of intensive research effort, development inputs and international aid, and substantive gains towards improving the economic and social condition of the majority of people living in rural regions of Kyrgyzstan. Her analysis provides insights into the way institutional complexes enter into village life through aid programs that overwrite local particularities, while aligning work processes with requirements developed elsewhere.  Her research contributes to a deeper understanding of how transnational agendas enter into and organize the day-to-day work practices of people doing development work at local levels, and how this can systematically depoliticize feminist and other progressive agendas. 

Deborah returned to Bishkek for another year in 2014-2015 to teach at AUCA and to conduct a study on the impact of the Eurasian Economic Union on food security in Kyrgyzstan. During this time she also secured a grant to bring Dr. Richard Atleo, an Aboriginal elder, to Kyrgyzstan to work with a group of students from AUCA, and to meet with local people who work to preserve Kyrgyz cultural traditions at the Aigine Cultural Research Center. Through this project she can to understand how an Indigenous lens could be applied to understand the challenges that communities confront in maneuvering the economic, political, and cultural transformations going on in Kyrgyzstan.

Deborah’s main research interests are in feminist political economy, Post-Soviet and Central Asian economy, institutional ethnography, and Indigenous studies.


PhD (Sociology), Simon Fraser University
MA (Sociology), University of Victoria
BA Hons. (Sociology), University of Victoria

Select Publications

Rural women’s encounters with economic development in Kyrgyzstan (2018) invited chapter in Women of Asia: Globalization, Development, and Social Change, edited by M. Najafizadeh and L. Lindsay. New York: Routledge.

Tracing the ‘social’ in processes of rural development in Kyrgyzstan (2017) Forum for Development Studies 44(3):473-492.

Kyrgyzstan’s accession to the EEU: Why do apples matter anyway? (2017) World Review of Political Economy 8(2):203-220.

A study of perceptions about implications of the Eurasian Economic Union on food security in Kyrgyzstan (2015); research report co-authored with Gulmira Churokova; Central Asian Studies Institute, Bishkek.

Models of collaboration: Comparative analysis of Kyrgyzstani and Kazakhstani rural societies (2013); co-authored with Vasiliy Lakhonin and Galina Gorborukova. Saarbruken, Germany: Lambert Academic Publishing.

Institutional ethnography, ethnobotany and the knowledge of ruling relations (2008); Canadian Journal for Native Education (special theme issue on Indigenous Knowledges and the University) 31(1): 162-178.