Coping with daily life in post-Soviet Tajikistan: The Gharmi villages of Khatlon Province

Colette Harris

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14 Citations (Scopus)


The present article examines the lifestyle changes of the inhabitants of a group of villages in the southern province of Khatlon, originally from the central region of Gharm. It examines the adaptations they have had to make to the new conditions of what is known as the 'transition' period and the decisive influence these have had on their daily lives and family relationships. The transition period is affecting men and women in very different and often contradictory ways. Men have been forced to weaken their bonds to their original families through becoming migrant workers and increasing numbers are forming second families in their places of work. The women they have left back home as well as the many widows are being force to take on new roles as heads of household. They have increased responsibilities accompanying their increased poverty. The break-down of the traditional way of life is allowing them greater freedom of movement and chances of decision-making in some cases but this is counterbalanced by a clinging to the security of old ways. However, the influence of islam from across the border may be a counterweigth to the new economic conditions and end by restricting women once again within more traditional roles. At present, the Gharmi villagers are managing to keep alive at a level of bare subsistence, without in most cases much hope of ever getting further than this. Each time the manage to achieve something, higher inflation or chronic illness attack and pull them down again. Most of the burden falls on the women who are the ones whose task it is to keep the family alive. They must provide food and clothing, do the housework, the washing and the cooking, while at the same time working on the kolkhoz, going to market, and carrying out a thousand and one other small chores that give them little respite day and night.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-671
Number of pages17
JournalCentral Asian Survey
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • gender role
  • lifestyle
  • post-communism
  • rural society
  • social change
  • transitional economy
  • Tajikistan

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