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Grace Zhou

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Grace Zhou

Research Interests: 
Intimate economies, work and welfare, dependency, and "post-work" imaginaries in Central Asia


My research interests are focused at the intersection of labor, intimacy, and the politics of work and welfare in post-socialist Central Asia. My dissertation follows the lives of businesswomen, sex workers, and homeless drug users in southern Kyrgyzstan. I'm interested in emergent forms of labor and intimacy after the collapse of a state-planned economy that had provided full employment and social security for its citizens. My dissertation explores how new and seemingly market-based or transactional intimacies allow marginalized groups (and likewise, "peripheral" world regions) to bridge social, geographic, and political boundaries to access new opportunities when formal modes of state redistribution have collapsed. I hope that my dissertation will have wider implications for understanding so-called "post-industrial" and "post-work" contexts that require critical rethinking of the terms of welfare. I hold a BA in Linguistics and Anthropology and an MA in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia Regional Studies from Columbia University. I have lived and worked in Kyrgyzstan, on and off, since 2009.