For centuries poetry was the most important arts genre in Central Asia. In order to be recognised as a member of the educated classes, it was obligatory to learn hundreds of poems. Even the Soviet regime (1922-1991) exploited the Uzbek people's love of poetry for its own political ends - the propagation of communist ideology. However, linked to the processes of globalisation, interest in poetry has diminished considerably in Uzbekistan over the past several years. People have become less attracted to the romance of poetry than to actual business, benefits and material values. To modern Uzbek society, poems come only in the form of lyrics for popular music. Globalisation has made poetry a minor genre among the Uzbek arts. To be a poet had been a respected profession for centuries. Now it has lost its prestige, as former poets turn to other occupations.
The Example of Uzbekistan
With a focus on the Republic of Uzbekistan, this article aims to explain the enduring survival of the custom known as qalin (bride price, bride money), in spite of efforts to eliminate it in the past, and seeks to reveal the incomprehensible - even somewhat enigmatic - reasons for its present existence. Because this practice was burdensome for poor people, some attempts were made to abolish or replace it, for example, by having the bridegroom work instead of paying the qalin, by interchanging girls between two families or by having the bride's kinsmen cover the costs of the wedding. One custom even involved paying a qalin by instalments. As the article demonstrates, despite criticisms and its negative aspects, the qalin still has a place in the lives of Uzbeks.
Transparency and Political Power in Uzbek Cyberspace
This article uses the example of Uzbekistan's national security services to consider how the psychic influence of a police state reveals itself online. What happens when the 'spectral double' of the police becomes a point of focus in a medium known for its transparency? I argue that although the Internet gives citizens the capability to organize and interact, it does not relieve their fears and suspicions; instead, it often intensifies them. Despite the 'transparency' that the Internet affords—and sometimes because of it—there are qualities bound up in the architecture of this medium that give rise to paranoia. Using examples from Uzbek online political discourse, I show how the Internet has fueled suspicion and fears about the state security services despite attempts to demystify and assuage them.
State Authoritarianism, Migrant Labour and Neo-traditionalism
Uzbekistan offers a case study of a country that has blocked the liberalisation of its economy and that is being marginalised in the world market as well as in the international community. Even still, two typical expressions of globalisation processes can be identified: first, an attempt to reconstruct the legitimacy of the state through the reinvention of a 'national identity', and, second, the elimination of a specific form of protected salaried work that had arisen during the Soviet era, along with a concurrent proletarianisation of the population, in particular in the rural areas. The research shows that political coercion and the inculcation of a nationalist ideology, on the one hand, and the economic degradation of living standards, on the other, result in the reinforcement of family ties and repression of individuality, in spite of huge labour migrations and a (minimal) introduction of the market.
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.
Shahnoza O. Madaeva
This article examines the impact of social and political factors on the spiritual transformation of society. Analysing sources and field research, the study aims to present an objective picture of the spiritual and mental transformation of the Uzbek people based on the oral history method of the 1920-1930s. Using the integration method, the author seeks to explain historic facts through the prism of philosophical reflection. At the same time, the research provides an overview on the processes of self-identification and integration, as well as on the development of state policies, in post-Soviet countries.
Christos Lynteris and Sergey Abashin
P. Sean Brotherton, Revolutionary Medicine: Health and the Body in Post-Soviet Cuba. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012.
Morgan Y. Liu, Under Solomon’s Throne: Uzbek Visions of Renewal in Osh. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012.
Miscommunication in Inter-ethnic Contact
The article analyses speech varieties among Uzbek migrants in Tashkent city in Uzbekistan to shed light on inter-ethnic contact. I do this through discussing various rhetorical strategies and linguistic means employed during the identification processes. 'We-codes' and 'They-codes' as well as the analysis of intent and 'perceived intent' are the centre of the theoretical argument of the article. It is important to consider communication and miscommunication when studying inter-ethnic relations and collective identities. I argue that it is necessary to distinguish between intent and what I call 'perceived intent' when analysing miscommunication. The data used for the article is drawn from the ethnography of communication among Khorezmians and other Uzbek groups in the capital city of Tashkent in Uzbekistan. Theoretically, the article contributes to the recent scholarly debate on language and identity pioneered by Gumperz, Hymes, Giles and Fishman among others.
The Kazakhs, Turkmens, Tajiks, Uyghurs and Uzbeks in Central Asia share some distinct religious elite groups – Xojas – some lineages of which appear in two or more of them. The Xoja group is a patrilineage, which traces kinship through blood relationships. Endogamous marriages prevail among the Uzbekspeaking Xoja contrary to descendants of nomadic, Kazakh-speaking Xojas. In this article I compare the kinship systems of the Uzbek-speaking Xoja of the Uzbek people and the Kazakh-speaking Xoja of the Kazakh people and analyse their transformation in the twentieth century. The analysis shows that interpretation of differences in kinship terminology is situational: in some cases it is interpreted as an example of adaptation to different cultures, and in other instances it may serve as a symbol of belonging.
Publications, Films and Conferences
Manijeh Nasrabadi, Maryam Aras, Alexander Djumaev, Sina Zekavat, Mary Elaine Hegland, Rosa Holman and Amina Tawasil
Keith Feldman (2015), A Shadow Over Palestine: The Imperial Life of Race in America
Fariba Vafi (2015), Tarlan
Merchant, Tanya (2015), Women Musicians of Uzbekistan: From Courtyard to Conservatory
Marwa Al-Sabouni (2016), The Battle for Home: The Vision of a Young Architect in Syria
Roxanne Varzi (2016), Last Scene Underground: An Ethnographic Novel of Iran
Marsha Emerman, On the Banks of the Tigris: The Hidden Story of Iraqi Music
Conference of Commission on Anthropology of the Middle East of the IUAES (International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences), 7–9 August 2016, Cracow, Poland