co-organized by Judith Beyer (Konstanz) and Madeleine Reeves (Manchester).
The last three years have seen a flourishing of anthropological and historical monographs on Central Asia. We propose an innovative workshop format that seeks to launch several of these recent monographs and to use a discussion of their findings as a basis for reflection on the future of Central Asian studies. The workshop will facilitate a series of focused discussions that emerge from bringing the texts into conversation with one another.
How can material from Central Asia inform conceptual debates about order, knowledge, modernity, empire, religion and resources in the widest sense? What can be gained from drawing together anthropological and historical scholarship on law and empire, or dynamics of peace and conflict? How can we better integrate the history and anthropology of Afghanistan to allow comparison with the rest of Central Asia? The book panel discussions will be videotaped and edited versions of these discussions will be made available to an international audience.
Here is the full pdf-version to an article I co-authored in 2015 together with Felix Girke in Common Knowledge as part of a special issue on “Peace by other means.”
In the article we engage with Laura Nader’s famous concept of “harmony ideology” from a practice-oriented perspective by taking ethnographic material from Southern Ethiopia and Northern Kyrgyzstan.
To everyone working on the concept of yntymak in the Central Asian context and on intergenerational dynamics, this paper might be helpful. Also to researchers working on the ‘cultural neighbourhood’, on interethnic relations or on the concept of ädamo in Southern Ethiopia.
Sean Guillory of Sean’s Russia Blog spoke with me the other day about my book “The force of custom. Law and the ordering of everyday life in Kyrgyzstan.” You can listen to the podcast online here or download the podcast here.
In our interview, Sean asked me what inspired me to do a study on “custom” (Kyrgyz salt) and how we can understand the concept anthropologically, how it is communicated, what metaphors are associated with it and in what contexts we can observe it in action.
Sean was also interested in hearing my reasons for not anonymizing my main informants, how people in my fieldsite conceive of their history, what the historical trajectories of the local courts of elders (aksakal courts) are, how Soviet life has been unmade after Kyrgyzstan gained independence, how we should understand the role of the state in the countryside and what the roles of elders and their relationship with villagers, politicians and state administrators are.
Finally, we discuss my decision to end the book with a criticism of the concept of postsocialism which, I argue, is not central for understanding everyday life in Kyrgyzstan.
My old school (Alte Landesschule Korbach) published an interview with me this month in their alumni journal. Sweet!
I carried out some follow-up fieldwork in Northern Kyrgyzstan in order to finish my book which is due at the end of September this year. I had a wonderful time, met old friends and made new ones and really enjoyed the cool and starry nights in my village in Talas province, and the hot days in the capital Bishkek.