Ethnic Return Migration and Public Debate: The Case of Kazakhstan

Kuscu I.

INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION, vol.52, pp.178-197, 2014 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 52
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/imig.12055
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.178-197
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Ethnic return migrations tend to become a controversial issue and create public debates within the receiving homeland states because of two major factors. The first concerns the economic and social problems brought on by the migrants ' integration process as well as the socio-economic burden that such migrations place on homeland institutions. The second involves the inherently discriminatory and exclusionary character of such migrations because they privilege the state-bearing ethnic group over others. As we will see, this dynamic has important implications for domestic nation-building. To better understand these influences within Kazakhstan, this article will attempt to analyse the public debate surrounding the government's ethnic return migration policy. It traces the discourse concerning the return of Kazakh oralmans (return migrants) by examining both Kazakh and Russian language publications. Interviews with experts, informal discussions with return migrants and the testimonies of long-term residents in the country are also used to this end.