• Associate Dean, Faculty Affairs
  • Acting Executive Associate Dean
  • Professor, Anthropology
  • Office: Academic Building, 4th Floor

Administrative Contact

Susan Burton



Cynthia Werner headshot


Dr. Cynthia Werner is a professor of anthropology and a member of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program. She serves as Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences. She holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in anthropology. Dr. Werner joined the Texas A&M faculty in 2001 as a member of the Department of Anthropology, where her ethnographic research has focused on the impact of Soviet and post-Soviet state projects on relatively marginalized groups in the post-socialist countries of Central Asia. Her work has been supported by the National Research Council, American Association for the Advancement of Science, National Science Foundation and National Council for Eurasian and East European Research. Dr. Werner is a past president of the Central Eurasian Studies Society (2012-2014). Most recently, she has served as director of ADVANCE (2019-2022), shifting her research accordingly while coordinating two regular workshop programs aimed at reducing implicit bias in faculty hiring and promotion. Dr. Werner led an ADVANCE research project on the differential impacts of COVID-19 on Texas A&M scholars that led to university guidelines for conducting faculty evaluations within the context of the pandemic. She also was involved in a collaborative, multidisciplinary research project examining forms of bias in the promotion and tenure review process.

Educational Background

  • PhD, Indiana University, 1997

Research Interests

  • Since 2004, I have been conducting research on the transnational migration of Mongolia’s Kazakh population. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Mongolia’s Kazakh population started to migrate to the newly independent Republic of Kazakhstan, a location that is newly imagined as their homeland. This is a collaborative project with Holly Barcus, a geographer at Macalester College. We are interested in the factors that shape individual and family decisions to migrate or stay in place. We are also interested in how gender shapes migration decisions and migration impacts, and the role that kin-based social networks play in helping to maintain transnational networks and social identities.

    Since 2001, I have been conducting research on the legacy of nuclear testing in northeastern Kazakhstan. This is a collaborative project (with environmental chemist Kathleen Purvis-Roberts at the Claremont Colleges). After World War Two, the Soviet Union developed a major nuclear test site in northeastern Kazakhstan that served as the location for 116 above-ground tests and 340 underground tests between 1949 and 1989. Our project involves interviews and surveys with Kazakh and Russian villagers who live near the Polygon, health care workers in the region most affected by nuclear testing, and research scientists who work at the former test site. We are interested in how perceptions of risk vary across these groups. We are also interested in the politics of risk, as the victims of nuclear testing struggle to find justice in the form of compensation and quality health care.

Selected Publications

  • 2018 Cynthia Werner, Christopher Edling, Charles Becker, Elena Kim, Russell Kleinbach, Fatima Sartbay, and Woden Teachout. “Bride Kidnapping in Post-Soviet Eurasia: A Roundtable Discussion” Central Asian Survey 37(4):582-601.
  • 2017 Holly Barcus and Cynthia Werner. “Choosing to Stay: (Im)Mobility Decisions Among Mongolia’s Ethnic Kazakhs.” Globalizations 14(1):32-50.
  • 2015 Cynthia Werner and Holly Barcus. “The Unequal Burdens of Repatriation: A Gendered Analysis of the Transnational Migration of Mongolia’s Kazakh Population” American Anthropologist 117(2): 257-271.
  • 2015 Holly Barcus and Cynthia Werner. “Immobility and the Re-imaginings of Ethnic Identity among Mongolian Kazakhs in the 21st Century.” Geoforum 59: 119-128.
  • 2013 Cynthia Werner, Holly Barcus, and Namara Brede. “Discovering a Sense of Well-Being Through the Revival of Islam: Profiles of Kazakh Imams in Western Mongolia” Central Asian Survey 32(4): 527-541.