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.
The Case of Female Suitcase Traders
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.
La civilisation de l'Oxus
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.
Central Asian Migrants between Ethnic Discrimination and Religious Integration
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.
The violence between the Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan in 2010 has shocked many who thought of Kyrgyzstan as the most liberal country and the strongest democracy in Central Asia. That conflict, still, has not been explained and understood very well. Opposing and rival explanations often accuse one or other party, or certain obscure and even foreign forces. Many analysts, on the other hand, rely only on the internal Kyrgyzstani affairs in order to explain that conflict. This article tries to find explanations and offer an understanding of the Uzbek–Kyrgyz interethnic conflict. Its aim is beyond a mere description and understanding of a single case. It will use different kinds of data in order to offer analytic explanations of the events. The legacy of the Soviet nationalities policy, in combination with regional peculiarities – particularly its ethno-demographic features – were the ultimate causes of the eruption of the Uzbek–Kyrgyz conflicts in southern Kyrgyzstan in 1990 and 2010.
Ethnicity, political economy, and violence in Xinjiang, 1759–2009
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.
Views from Central Asia
Markus S. Schulz
The future of energy is crucial for human mobility and well-being on a finite planet. What energy types are available to cover global needs? To what extent can they be produced and consumed safely? How can the negative effects of global warming, climate change, and environmental degradation be avoided? Who will benefit, and who will be at risk? Faced with such urgent questions, it was timely that the World Expo 2017 was dedicated to the theme of “Future Energy.” Held from June to September in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, a total of 115 countries, 22 international organizations, and several transnational corporations set up their own pavilions and exhibition spaces. Close to four million people visited the three-month-long expo, including an estimated five hundred thousand from abroad.
Popular Religious Practices and Perceptions in the Middle East and Central Asia
Mary Elaine Hegland
People at the popular level often hold religious perceptions and engage in religious practices that make sense to them within their own existential situations, even if they fall outside orthodoxy. Although political leaders and religious authorities may attempt to mould people’s religious perceptions and practices according to their own ideas and interpretations of religion, people frequently find ways to evade or ignore such pressures, to rationalise their deviations or to continue to live and think according to their own self-generated religious frameworks. The authors of the articles in this special issue provide examples of how people’s actual practices and religious beliefs arise out of their own personal situations and histories though at odds with the pronouncements of religious specialists.
Publications, Films and Conferences
Babak Rezvani, Sophie Accolas, Mary Elaine Hegland and Clemence Scalbert Yucel
Steppe Magazine: A Central Asian Panorama (Nettlebed, Oxfordshire: Steppe International), £10/$20.
Omidvari, Mohammad Mehdi (2006), La plainte des bateaux enchaînés, Iran, vidéo, couleur, 38 minutes.
‘Kinship in Iran and Neighbouring Countries’, 20–22 June 2008, Tehran, Iran
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.