Everyday Life in Central Asia: Past and Present

Everyday Life in Central Asia: Past and Present

Everyday Life in Central Asia: Past and Present

Everyday Life in Central Asia: Past and Present

Synopsis

For its citizens, contemporary Central Asia is a land of great promise and peril. While the end of Soviet rule has opened new opportunities for social mobility and cultural expression, political and economic dynamics have also imposed severe hardships. In this lively volume, contributors from a variety of disciplines examine how ordinary Central Asians lead their lives and navigate shifting historical and political trends. Provocative stories of Turkmen nomads, Afghan villagers, Kazakh scientists, Kyrgyz border guards, a Tajik strongman, guardians of religious shrines in Uzbekistan, and other narratives illuminate important issues of gender, religion, power, culture, and wealth. A vibrant and dynamic world of life in urban neighborhoods and small villages, at weddings and celebrations, at classroom tables, and around dinner tables emerges from this introduction to a geopolitically strategic and culturally fascinating region.

Excerpt

For its citizens, contemporary Central Asia is a land of great promise and peril. Promise, for the end of Soviet rule has allowed new opportunities for social mobility and cultural expression. Peril, for political and economic dynamics have imposed severe restrictions on independent activity and widened the gap between rich and poor. In this volume, we will examine how ordinary residents of Central Asia, past and present, lead their lives and navi gate shifting historical and political patterns. Contributors, drawn from a wide range of academic disciplines, will tell provocative stories of Turkmen nomads, Afghan villagers, Kazakh scientists, Kyrgyz border guards, a Tajik “strongman,” and guardians of religious shrines in Uzbekistan. These and other narratives of ordinary citizens and their everyday lives will intertwine with important questions and relations of gender, religion, power, culture, and wealth. Moving tales of personal struggle mix with those of success as Central Asians confront, adapt to, and seek to influence global movements and trends as well as increasingly strong and invasive states. We expose a vibrant and dynamic world of everyday life in urban neighborhoods and small villages, at weddings and celebrations, and around classroom tables as well as the dinner tables of the peoples of Central Asia.

Examining Central Asia from the perspective of everyday life offers important new insights on the region. In the past decade-plus almost the only facets of Central Asia exposed to the Western public at large came in terms of building democracy, religious extremism and terrorism, natural resource holdings, and the war in Afghanistan. Occasionally, there has appeared the odd human interest or features story in newspapers or on radio, such as textile-making traditions, bride kidnapping in Kazakhstan, the reinvention of the Silk Road, or the continued semi-nomadic existence of Chinggis Khan’s mountainous descendants. While such reporting has served to illuminate certain features of daily life in Central Asia since the collapse of Communism, it rarely provides the contextualization to furnish readers or listeners with a richer historical or social awareness of a particular contemporary situation. We learn that key relationships—between men and women, for example—and key concepts—such as Islam—are in continuous . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.