I have been researching kinship in Kyrgyzstan since 2006 – in my recent book Blood Ties and the Native Son: Poetics of Patronage in Kyrgyzstan,[i] I explored the role of kinship and political patronage in the organization of community through the personal biography of one leader, and argued that such forms contribute to political participation and democratization. I have continued my research on these themes from 2016-2017 as part of the international project on ‘Informal governance and corruption- Transcending the Principal Agent and Collective Action Paradigms’ (funded by the British Academy-DFID Anti-Corruption Evidence (ACE)), traveling back to Kyrgyzstan to do an ethnography of informal governance, corruption, and lineage associations. My aim in this project was to find the local patterns of informality, in order to understand how relations of power and influence are organized in daily life. Continue reading Lineage associations in Kyrgyzstan, by Aksana Ismailbekova (Bonn International Center for Conversion)
For our first class, I asked my students to describe the space where they slept, in as much detail as possible. I, like the American student ambassadors to the Kazakhstan World Expo, had only arrived in Astana a week before. While I had been given a flat in the “new center” of Astana, on the Left Bank, they were dispersed in different buildings in the Expo Village. Their housing, like so much of the Expo, had been finished just days before their arrival. They described their rooms as sparse, unfinished, and lacking furniture. Continue reading Pedagogy Under Construction: Lessons on Teaching as Fieldwork at Kazakhstan’s Expo, by Meghanne Barker (University of Chicago)
Friends please check out the wonderful blog by Guldana Salimjan, “Singing Back to the Steppe: Kazakh Poetry Battles in Contemporary Xinjiang” – originally published at Radii and livingotherwise.com, which are run by fellow colleague Darren Byler, who is writing a series of blogs on ‘The Art of Life in Chinese Central Asia’! Continue reading Check out new research on Xinjiang!
If you think that Kazakh youth is far too modern and stylish for tribal identity talks, think again. Let’s go back and look beyond the D&G shirts, fast cars and fancy bags that constitute the desired and/or obtained bricolage of a mainstream modern and young Kazakh. Differences in class, occupation, and place of residence may not stand as the main identification points if you wish to talk about pride and “coolness” from the roots’ point of view. It is the Tribe that does relate to all these things above all for many young Kazakhs. Tribal identity packed in the symbolic acoutrement of contemporaneity – cell phone and IPad cases, car plates, and even business stationary – wins its own market in Kazakhstan. The launch of the official social network based on tribes – Rulas.kz – was more or less a logical continuation addressing the urges for Kazakh youth to identify with their tribal heritage. Continue reading Inside Rulas.kz: mapping Kazakh youth’s tribal identity, by Diana Kudaibergenova
At the last CESS Conference at Columbia University, Morgan Liu (our new CESS Blog editor!) received the CESS Book Award for best monograph in the social sciences published 2012-2013 for Under Solomon’s Throne: Uzbek Visions of Societal Renewal in Osh (2012 Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press). Continue reading CESS Book Award for Study on Osh & Interpreting Authoritarianism