“It’s half being queer, and half just wanting to leave:” queer migration in Kazakhstan
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Queer migration has been studied among different groups and in different regions of the world but so far no comprehensive study has been undertaken in Central Asia. Much existing queer migration research focuses on specific destination countries or specific migratory pathways, and is often explored after the fact. This dissertation is based on qualitative research with aspiring queer migrants before they embark on a journey. Through examinations of the decisions to migrate, which migratory pathway to take, and where to go, this dissertation offers the first academic insight into the phenomenon of queer migration in Kazakhstan. It brings new contributions on the factors behind queer mobility and immobility, explores the ‘queer lens’ through which aspiring queer migrants view migratory processes and decisions, and explores how their queer, national and ethnic identities intersect in these processes. This study is based on in-depth qualitative interviews with 15 queer migrants and aspiring queer migrants in Almaty, Kazakhstan with a range of life experiences and sexual or gender identities. Analysis generates new empirical insights into the factors that lead queer people in Kazakhstan to pursue migration, the pathways they choose, from asylum to education to work, and the destinations they seek. The study explores how and why Kazakhstani queer migrants differ from general migratory patterns in Kazakhstan and from queer migrants in other contexts.
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