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Women’s Health in Central Asia

The Case of Female Suitcase Traders

Muyassar Turaeva

This article assesses the social factors that influence the health of female suitcase traders and the health risks related to the trade as an occupation. The findings indicate that it is imperative to study the health of small-scale traders within the framework of occupational health. Suitcase trade is widespread in both developing countries and the post-Soviet region, and recognising it as an occupation makes it possible to research related health issues. This in turn can lead to the discovery of specific patterns regarding health risks and the treatment of typical illnesses of suitcase traders, thus facilitating comparison with other occupational health research. The article examines existing barriers to health for women in Central Asia and summarises the quality and content of the treatment that is available.

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L'âge du bronze en Asie centrale

La civilisation de l'Oxus

Henri-Paul Francfort

The Bronze Age civilisation of Central Asia developed during the second half of the third millennium BC. Besides elements resembling Middle Eastern contemporary civilisations (e.g. economy, art), it displays also some peculiarities resembling earlier periods (e.g. importance of hunting), as well as specific steppe relations (e.g. pottery, horses) and purely local traits (e.g. animal burials, camel domestication, lapis lazuli, tin trade). This original 'Oxus civilisation' raises a number of issues related to environmental (arid period), ethno-linguistic (Indo-Iranian), historical (chronology, origin, decline) and methodological problems, such as its place in a neo-evolutionist scheme as a manifestation of a proto-urban phenomenon. The longue durée, revisited as a system in the Middle Asian interaction sphere, seems a promising way of understanding this civilisation.

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Smith in Beijing, Stalin in Urumchi

Ethnicity, political economy, and violence in Xinjiang, 1759–2009

Chris Hann

The extraordinary growth rates of China’s “reform socialist” economy have helped to finance not only the United States’ debt but also large-scale transfers to the country’s underdeveloped regions. Yet violence in Tibet in 2008 was followed in July 2009 by major rioting in Xinjiang. This article approaches the latter events through the analysis of contemporary labor markets, socialist policies toward ethnic minorities, and the history of Xinjiang’s incorporation into the Manchu empire. Theoretical inspiration for this longue durée analysis is drawn from Adam Smith, via Giovanni Arrighi’s recent reassessment of the Smithian market model; anthropological work points to flaws in this vision.

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Reports

Publications, Films and Conferences

Babak Rezvani, Sophie Accolas, Mary Elaine Hegland and Clemence Scalbert Yucel

PUBLICATIONS

Steppe Magazine: A Central Asian Panorama (Nettlebed, Oxfordshire: Steppe International), £10/$20.

FILMS

Omidvari, Mohammad Mehdi (2006), La plainte des bateaux enchaînés, Iran, vidéo, couleur, 38 minutes.

CONFERENCES

‘Kinship in Iran and Neighbouring Countries’, 20–22 June 2008, Tehran, Iran

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Introduction

Central Asia

Aftandil Erkinov and Soheila Shahshahani

Unlike previous issues, the focus of this issue is not on a theme but on a geographical area. Thee reasoning behind this choice of topic is that since we are an anthropology journal, with culture being our primary concern, we aim to study the cultures of peoples regardless of political boundaries. Iran and Turkey have their own distinct histories and traditions, yet they share similarities and unity in culture, making it imperative for us to consider Central Asia. Although this special issue is dedicated to the region, topical articles about Central Asia will always be welcomed for future issues.

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Editorial

Unthemed Issue

Soheila Shahshahani

This issue of Anthropology of the Middle East is unthemed, but there is a definite continuity to its articles. Previously, we have had themed issues – for example, on kinship, migration, medical anthropology, Central Asia – and the articles here touch on the same topics, so they relate very well to earlier issues.

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Lucien Gubbay

The Ottomans were descended from one of the many clans of Turkish nomads who swept westwards from the steppes of Central Asia and decisively defeated the enfeebled Byzantine Empire at the battle of Manzikert in 1071. The tribesmen converted to Islam and then slowly expanded their grip on Byzantine territory in Anatolia.

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Status Translation

Central Asian Migrants between Ethnic Discrimination and Religious Integration

Sophie Roche

For migrants coming from Central Asia to Moscow, the Cathedral Mosque functions as a central hub to organise their life in the Russian capital. The reason for this is not predominantly their faith or religion. Rather, this place of worship opens a space in which these mostly Tajik people translate their status from that of a stranger exposed to xenophobia and distrust to the respected position of a proper Muslim.

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Bruce O'Neill, Helene Maria Kyed, Pauline Peters, Ruy Llera Blanes and Hege Toje

Martin Demant Frederiksen, Young Men, Time, and Boredom in the Republic of Georgia (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2013), 214 pp. ISBN 9781439909188.

Didier Fassin, Enforcing Order: An Ethnography of Urban Policing (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013), 320 pp. ISBN 9780745664798.

Ørnulf Gulbrandsen, The State and the Social: State Formation in Botswana and Its Pre-colonial and Colonial Genealogies (New York: Berghahn Books, 2014), 343 pp. ISBN 9781782383253.

Franco La Cecla and Piero Zanini, The Culture of Ethics, trans. Lydia G. Cochrane (Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press, 2013), 119 pp. ISBN 9780984201044.

Madeleine Reeves, Border Work: Spatial Lives of the State in Rural Central Asia (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2014), 292 pp. ISBN 9780801477065.

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By the shores of white waters

The Altai and its place in the spiritual geopolitics of Nicholas Roerich

John McCannon

The artist Nicholas Roerich, famous for his expeditions (1925-1928 and 1934-1936) to Central Asia and the Himalayas, was deeply fascinated by the Altai Mountains, which he visited in 1926 (even though he had emigrated from Soviet Russia in 1918). His interest in the region had partly to do with his scholarly theories about the origin of Eurasian cultures. Even more important were Roerich's occult beliefs. Ostensibly artistic and academic in nature, Roerich's expeditions were part of a larger effort to create a pan-Buddhist state that was to include southern Siberia, Mongolia, and Tibet. In the Altai, Roerich aimed to locate the legendary land of White Waters (Belovod'e) and build his capital there. Support for this 'Great Plan' came from American followers of Roerich's mystical teachings. In addition, by representing himself to Soviet authorities as someone who might foster anti-British resentment and pro-Russian feelings among the populations of Central Asia and Tibet, Roerich briefly piqued their interest. The Great Plan was never realised, but Roerich continued to believe in the Altai's magical properties.