The paper sheds light on informal economies, focusing on transnational entrepreneurs between Central Asia and Russia. Both male and female entrepreneurs from Central Asia live mobile economic lives, traveling between Central Asia and Russia and forming a kind of class. With Islam playing a prominent role in the regulation of informal economies, Islamic belonging has become a stronger marker of identity than ethnicity among Central Asian migrants in Russia, and mosque communities have grown in influence. Mosques have become places to meet and socialize, where contacts are established and maintained.
In this paper, we unpack the uchyot (“registration”) system using Foucault’s regime-based approach. Uchyot is a Soviet tool for controlling populations by requiring them to register personal information and then sharing this information with the relevant state institutions. This paper explores how uchyot is used to control drug users in Uzbekistan and Central Asian migrants in Russia. It argues that social and economic pressures, combined with strict policies, push unwanted citizens and migrants to engage in risky behaviors or into the shadows of informality and illegality.