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Personal profile


Dr. Gulzat Botoeva is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from University of Essex in 2015, which was funded by the University of Essex and Overseas Research Students Award Scheme scholarships. Her doctoral work focused on small-scale illegal hashish production in one of the regions of Kyrgyzstan.

From 2010 to 2013 she worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant teaching criminology courses at the Sociology Department, University of Essex. Prior to doctoral studies she worked as Assistant Professor teaching sociology and sociology of crime and deviance, research methods courses at the Sociology Department, American University of Central Asia.


Diploma of higher education in Sociology, MA Sociological Research Methods, Ph.D. Sociology

Research interests

In general, I am interested in studying topics related to economic sociology and anthropology and sociology of law. I am interested in studying and supervising topics related to illegal drug markets, neoliberalization and crime, informal economies, crime in post-Soviet countries. Theoretically, I am interested in looking at the legality and illegality divide. Methodologically, I use qualitative research methods and conduct ethnographic fieldwork.

Research projects

During my academic career I was always involved in an empirical research. My latest research interest is in extractive industries in Kyrgyzstan. During 2017-2018 summers I collected interviews with small-scalle gold miners and panners In Naryn region of the country and expert interviews in Bishkek city. This is an ongoing research project. 

My previous research project was on studying illegal hashish production in Kyrgyzstan (2008-2013). It focused on understanding the role of illegal drug market in the local economy and culture. The main method of data collection was an ethnographic fieldwork, during which I was able to collect 64 qualitative interviews and make numerous observations. In addition, I collected 147 household questionnaires designed to assist the qualitative data obtained at the beginning of the project. This fieldwork was conducted as part of the PhD training at the University of Essex and lead to four different publications. 

Prior to PhD, I have worked as a research consultant, researcher for various international organisations interested in different topics such as: 'Islamic education in Kyrgyzstan’, Eurasia Foundation (2008), 'Childhood poverty in Kyrgyzstan’, Childhood Poverty Research and Policy Centre, UK (2002-2004).


I am keen to discuss PhD opportunities with students interested in focusing on issues related to informal and illegal economies in developing countries. More specifically, the topics could be on illegal drug production and trafficking, issues of legitimacy of illegal activities and discussion of any types of illegal economic activities in Central Asia and the post-Soviet region. 


Professional affiliations

Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS) (2012 - )

British Society of Criminology (2015 - )

British Society of Criminology Early Career Researcher Network (2015 - )

European Society for Central Asian Studies (2018 -) 


Illegal drug markets and drug policies; Illegal and informal economies; Crime in post-Soviet countries; Qualitative research methods; Ethnographies of Crime.