The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China is home to some 12 million indigenous Turkic speaking Muslims, primarily Uyghurs but also smaller numbers of Kazakhs and others. It is now one of the most heavily policed areas in the world. Inhabitants are controlled and monitored to an extraordinary degree and detained in extraordinary numbers. These extreme policies are justified by the claim that China is fighting Islamic radicalisation and extremism.
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).
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)
Last March the 3rd annual Regional Open Source Conference of Central Asia was held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The choice of Dushanbe as the host city (Tajikistan has the second lowest internet penetration in the region after Turkmenistan) made an important statement about how the conference organizers viewed the use of open source technology in Central Asia. The topics ranged from development, persons with disabilities, e-government, and education but carried a central theme of “Open Data, Open Systems and Open Technology”. An underlying current within these topics is the idea that through open source technology we can bypass existing infrastructure to create projects which directly affect the people they are intended to benefit.
Continue reading Open Source Society and Central Asia
Welcome to this inaugural post of “The Panarchy,” a blog series that will explore research that examines the dynamic interaction of social and ecological systems in Central Eurasia. The blog series takes its name from conceptual developments in “resilience thinking,” a branch of scholarship concerned with the triggers and processes that compose growth, collapse, and transformation in interconnected economic, ecological, and social systems across scales.
Continue reading The Panarchy: Welcome