A growing current within Central Eurasian Studies covers water—and for good reason. Scholarly analysis of human-water relationships in such areas as history, culture, and political economy can produce new understandings of the past and the present. Since ancient times, communities of this region have survived by successfully locating and distributing aquatic resources. Today, this task involves higher stakes than ever: local governments’ continuous mismanagement of rivers over the last century caused the Aral Sea to shrink by 90 percent, along with other untold lesser-known harms; now, climate change and mining are doing away with the very glaciers sustaining Central Eurasia’s precious waterways.
Here’s a puzzle:
In Kunduz (now northern Afghanistan) the Friday sermon was read in the name of the ruling dynasty of Bukhara rather than the local Qataghan dynasts, at least during the 1850s. The Friday sermon (khuṭba) has been an Islamic symbol of sovereignty for over a thousand years. However, Bukharan troops had never set foot in Kunduz, nor had they extracted resources from that territory (at least during the reign of the Manghits, 1747-1920).
If you are reading this blog in your office or at home, look around you. It is probable that you are surrounded by a myriad of objects of everyday use imported from China, even if the production process of the products themselves has been completed outside of China: pens, ink, memory sticks, mouse pads, brush and dustpan, safety pins, spoons, handbag, umbrella, the foil paper in your kitchen, your socks, your clothes’ buttons, zipper or bra’s underwire – and the list goes on. How were these items sourced? Who was responsible from bringing them to the shop where you finally purchased them? What type of exchanges, transactions, mobilities and circulations of people, knowledge, money, value, goods, ideas and emotions have been implicated in the trajectories of such goods? Continue reading Yiwu and Transnational Traders: Intersections along Eurasia, Central, South and West Asia, by Diana Ibañez Tirado (University of Sussex)
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)