SENKU seminar with Dr Ainur Begim

Household Finances, Offshore Money, and Bonds of Kinship in Financialized Central Asia


Abstract: Begim’s work, based on 17 months of field research, examines the emergence of life insurance as a savings instrument in postsocialist Kazakhstan. An oil-based economy, Kazakhstan enjoys one of the highest incomes per capita in the postsocialist region, but in the context of rampant inflation, a weakened post-crisis banking system, and uncertainty surrounding the pension system, Kazakhstanis struggle to find suitable savings and investment vehicles. Many have turned to illicit accumulative life insurance schemes, often peddled using multi-level marketing techniques, to protect and valorize liquid assets. In selling these accumulative life insurance schemes, financial advisers appeal to idealized western standards of living with dignity and challenge kin-based systems of mutual assistance. They position their main product – life insurance – as a way to reassert control over personal finances and protect savings from redistribution. Furthermore, financial advisers capitalize on citizens’ discontent with the state and its management of the financial sphere and tap into people’s faith and trust in personal relations.


Dr Aina Begim is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Museum of Cultural History. Aina is a sociocultural anthropologist with research and teaching interests in economic and political anthropology, finance, natural resources, entrepreneurship, gender, Eurasia and Norway. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Yale University. In 2016-2017 she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Russian and East European Studies, Department of Anthropology, and Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.


The seminar will take place in the seminar room on the 3rd floor, Frederiks gate 2 (Entrance via back door on Kristian IVs gate - ring the doorbell for the third floor) . After the seminar there will be room for informal conversations and drinks.


SENK, Geoffrey Gowlland and Tone Wang
Published Aug. 30, 2017 11:57 AM - Last modified Sep. 4, 2017 9:36 AM