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About the Director


On July 1st, 2019, Dr. Cynthia Werner, was appointed as the new Director of ADVANCE. Dr. Werner, a professor of anthropology, served as department head from 2011-2019. She has also been an active member of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Texas A&M, and she previously served on the Internal Advisory Board for ADVANCE.

Dr. Werner earned her bachelor’s degree in 1989 from Texas Christian University, and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Indiana University-Bloomington. She held visiting appointments at the University of Iowa and Pitzer College prior to joining Texas A&M University as an assistant professor in 2001.

Dr. Werner’s research is geographically based in the region of Central Asia, an area that includes the former “Muslim republics” of the Soviet Union. From the 1930s to the 1990s, the region was radically transformed by Soviet rule, yet closed to ethnographic research. Dr. Werner was among the earliest cohort of “Western” anthropologists to conduct ethnographic research in the region, beginning in the early 1990s. Her publications cover a variety of topics, including rural household survival strategies, memories of nuclear testing in Kazakhstan, the repatriation of ethnic Kazakhs from Mongolia to Kazakhstan and the unusual marriage practice of bride kidnapping. These different areas of inquiry are united by an interest in how relatively marginalized groups have adapted to changes brought about by Soviet and post-Soviet states. In her publications on bride kidnapping, she argues that institutions can and do have an influential role in changing cultural attitudes and practices towards gender equity.

Dr. Werner is the recipient of fellowships and grants from the National Research Council, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Science Foundation and the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research. She is also the past president of the Central Eurasian Studies Society.

Dr. Werner can be reached at werner@tamu.edu.  To schedule a meeting with her, please contact Robin Watkins at rswatkins@tamu.edu