American University of Central Asia - AUCA - 2017-2018 Academic Year

Anthropology Club meetings 2017-2018


April 24, 2018

Jeanne Feaux de la Croix

Iconic Places in Central Asia: The Moral Geography of Dams, Pastures and Holy Sites


Jeanne Féaux de la Croix maps three iconic places as part of Central Asians' "moral geographies" and examines their role in navigating socialist, neo-liberal, and neo-Islamic life models. Dams provide most of Kyrgyzstan's electricity, but are also at the heart of regional water disputes that threaten an already shrinking Aral Sea. Mountain pastures cover much of Central Asia's heartland and offer a livelihood and refuge, even to urban citizens. Pilgrimage sites have recovered from official Soviet oblivion and act as cherished scenes of decision-making. Examining how iconic places, work, and well-being can mesh together, this book moves debates about post-Soviet memory, space, and property onto fresh terrain.

Jeanne Féaux de la Croix is a social anthropologist trained in Oxford and St. Andrews, After fellowships at Zentrum Moderner Orient, she moved to Eberhard-Karls University Tübingen to lead a Junior Research Group on the Cultural History of Water in Central Asia. She also serves as principal investigator of a Volkswagen Project on ‘The Social Life of a River: environmental histories, social worlds and conflict resolution along the Naryn-Syr Darya’. Together with environmental historians, she co-directs a study comparing soil degradation issues in Central Asia, Russia and Australia ( Collaborative Research Centre Threatened Orders). She is currently researching phantom infrastructure projects, the perception of glacier melt and bridge histories in Kyrgyzstan. Féaux de la Croix is particularly interested in collaborative approaches and transdisciplinary methods such as participant filming.


8 апреля, 2018

Чолпон Чотаева

Воздействие китайской экономической политики на Кыргызстан: взгляд изнутри


Большая Игра в Центральной Азии, которая началась еще в XIX в., продолжается и в XXI в. Если в XIX в. было два основных игрока: Российская и Британская империи, то сегодня количество игроков увеличилось до четырех: Россия продолжает оставаться в регионе, Британия удалилась, но вместо нее пришли три новых государства: США, Турция и Китай. Однако только Китай имеет общую с Кыргызстаном границу. Новая экономическая инициатива “Один Пояс и Один Путь”, провозглашенная в 2013 году китайским лидером Си Цзиньпином, которая имела целью подстегнуть экономическое развитие и сотрудничество между евразийскими странами, оказала большое влияние на жизнь обычных граждан Кыргызстана. Презентация покажет, как повлияла китайская экономическая политика на Кыргызстан с точки зрения простых граждан. Она постарается ответить на следующие вопросы: Как воспринимают китайскую экономическую политику простые граждане Кыргызстана? Каковы позитивные и негативные последствия китайской экономической политики? Каковы перспективы китайской экономической политики в Кыргызстане?

Чолпон Чотаева  - руководитель программы антопологии, профессор, доктор исторических наук
Американский университет Центральной Азии.


December 13, 2017

Diana Takutdinova

Anthropology of Dance Seminar and Party!!!


Diana Takutdinova intends to:

· Make an overview of Anthropology of Dance as a unique field of studies

· Present the summary of her Masters Thesis “Islamic influence in theTatar folk dance”, and

· Teach us some dancing moves to a music.

Pizza and soft drinks will be provided!!!

Born in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Diana Takutdinova has devoted her life to the arts since the age of four. She of Tatar descent and is skilled in the dances of Central Asia and character dances of Post- Soviet Union. Diana’s thirst for knowledge in learning cultures and dance motivated her to get Bachelor degrees in Anthropology and Choreography respectively from two institutions, American University of Central Asia (2012) and University of Culture and Art (2016). In 2016 Diana graduated from the University of Tromso with Master degree in Peace and Conflict Transformation. In July 2017 she completed Master program Choreomundus, an International Master in Dance Knowledge, Practice and Heritage. It is a consortium of four universities: University of Clermont Auvergne (UCA, coordinator), Clermont-Ferrand, France; Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway; University of Szeged (SZTE), Hungary; University of Roehampton, London (URL), United Kingdom. Diana hopes that her experience around the world and studies will help her contribute in new ways for preserving and help shape the culture and arts of people in Kyrgyzstan and to transmit the knowledge to the next generation of artists and scholars.


Nov 28, 2017

Rouslan Jalil

The Social Significance of Islam in Post-Soviet Central Asia: The Case of Kyrgyzstan

The aim of this paper is to analyze whether the process of religious revival that started after collapse of the Soviet Union has translated into increased religiosity of Kyrgyzstany society. The study is based on quantitative field work carried out in 2012 and updated in 2015, which examines various dimensions of religiosity to learn the degree of Islamic practice, beliefs, values and religious knowledge.

The findings demonstrate that the evident outcome of the religious resurgence in Kyrgyzstan is the profound growth of religious institutions and formal attachment to religion. However, this has not led to dramatic growth of religiosity in terms of participation and attendance of religious practices. The findings also reveal significant regional and ethnic differences in religious observance and attachment to certain aspects of Islamic tradition. Overall, the outcomes of the study present the fact that whereas Islam in Kyrgyzstan serves as a means of traditional self-identification, the society prefers to believe but not belong to Islamic traditionalism.

Rouslan Jalil is a doctoral fellow at department of Educational Policy and Evaluation (EPE), the University of Kentucky, USA. He is currently doing a research on examining Islamic education and political secularism in post-Soviet Central Asia. Rouslan has BA degree from the ICP at AUCA (2001). He earned his MA degree in social science and economics from the University of Bonn and the University of Hamburg (2006), Germany. In 2013, he was a visiting scholar at Indiana University, USA. During 2006-2010, Rouslan worked as a research fellow and a program manager at “ABH Institut für Sozialforschung”, a German based research institute in Hamburg. Between 2010-12, he worked as an assistant professor at ICP in AUCA. His research interests include sociology of religion, education and religion, educational policy, and trends and reforms in higher education.


Nov 14th, 2017

Dr. Aksana Ismailbekova

Informal governance and corruption in Kyrgyzstan


This article examines the dialectical relationship of formal and informal governance, as well as their relation to and effect on corruption in Kyrgyzstan. Despite the changes of the formal political system from a presidential to a parliamentary style of government, the logic of informal governance with its rules and practices remained in place and remains widely applied behind the facade of the formal frameworks. In order to understand why anti-corruption movements and political reforms have not worked, we focus on practices of informal governance that have worked and worked efficiently enough to block those reforms. Due to its flexible and omnipresent nature, practices of informal governance are capable of adapting to different formal political systems. It is detrimental to the transparency of the political system and institutional development, yet it also contributes to regime stability and change and has efffectson corruption.

Aksana Ismailbekova has recently joined theproject ‘Forms of local security in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan—The emergence of securityscapes’ funded by Volkswagen Foundation (2017-2018). She is also a lead researcher for Kyrgyzstan in the project “Informal Governance and Corruption –Transcending the Principal Agent and Collective Action Paradigms”, which is funded by the British Academy (BA) – DFID Anti-Corruption Evidence Programme (ACE) and led by the Basel Institute on Governance (2016-2017). Ismailbekova was research fellow at the Zentrum ModernerOrient (ZMO) (Center for the Modern Orient) in Berlin (2011-2015). At ZMO Ismailbekova was a member of the competence network “Crossroads Asia.” She conducted her doctoral research at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle/Saale, Germany (2006-2012).


31 Октября, 2017

Пр. Рахат Садырбеков и Пр. Руслан Рахимов

Круглый стол по обсуждению ситуации на дорогах города Бишкек:
Война машин: кто и почему нарушает ПДД в Бишкеке


Целью данного исследования является определение факторов, влияющих на нарушение правил дорожного движения в Бишкеке. Впервые будут представлена независимая статистика по количеству ДТП.

В 2017 году в КР каждый день умирало два человека в день в ДТП. За последние десять лет ДТП растет и растет смертность.

Идет повышение штрафов, внедряется больше рейдов, идет работа среди водителей ….
Но ничего не меняется: ДТП растет, ПДД почти повсюду и каждый день нарушаются. Сложилось впечатление, что жители Бишкека смирились с несоблюдением ПДД и постоянным высоким риском быть сбитым или попаданием в ДТП.
Репрезентативное исследование показало:
• как часто нарушаются ПДД;
• как часто водители дают взятку;
• какой уровень знаний ПДД у водителей;
• какие меры по мнению водителей уменьшит ДТП;
• и другие актуальные вопросы городского транспорта.
Данное исследование проведено при поддержке Фонда «Сорос-Кыргызстан».
Кофе и легкие закуски будут представлены во время круглого стола.


Oct 24, 2017

Pr. David Montgomery 

Practicing Islam: Knowledge, Experience, and Social Navigation in Kyrgyzstan


Pr. Montgomery is a Director of Program Development for CEDAR—Communities Engaging with Difference and Religion, and Associate Research Professor in the Center for International Development and Conflict Management & the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland. He is the author of Practicing Islam: Knowledge, Experience, and Social Navigation in Kyrgyzstan and Living with Difference: How to Build Community in a Divided World.


10-е октября, 2017

Жылдыз Тегизбекова

К вопросу регулирования брачных отношений в обычном праве кыргызов


В рамках открытой лекции будут рассмотрены аспекты регулирования брачных отношений кыргызов по обычному праву, озвучены рекомендации и предложения по возможной интеграции позитивных традиций и обычаев кыргызов в современное семейное законодательство Кыргызской Республики. Путем анализа устных и письменных памятников права, практики общественной жизни кыргызов проводится историко-правовой анализ эволюции понятия «брак». Также будут проанализированы формы, условия и порядок заключения брака, а также и основания его прекращения по нормам обычного права кыргызов. На основании материалов обычного права кыргызов определяется значение институтов калыма и приданного в системе брачных отношений кыргызов.

Приглашаем всех, кто интересуется актуальными вопросами обычного права кыргызов.

Тегизбекова Жылдыз Чынарбековна – независимый исследователь, кандидат юридических наук, доцент. Автор книги «Обычное право кыргызов: брак и семья» и других работ относительно традиций и обычаев кыргызского народа.


26 сентября, 2017

Мехригюль Аблезова, Галина Горборукова, Ширин Туменбаева

Почему люди не принимают участия в голосовании? Исследование электорального поведения избирателей и его детерминанты в городах Бишкек и Ош

Эффективность политической системы зависит в большей степени от уровня политического участия граждан, потенциала их понимания и выражения политических интересов, предпочтений, а также возможностей воспользоваться правом собственного выбора. Недавние тенденции показывают, что явка избирателей в Кыргызской Республике, является самой низкой по всему региону Центральной Азии и имеет устремленность к снижению. Настоящее исследование направлено на изучение электорального поведения жителей двух городов Кыргызстана (Бишкек и Ош). Целью данного проекта является выявление факторов, имеющих непосредственное влияние на электоральное поведение горожан. Данные опроса 771 респондента в обоих городах, показывают, что большинство причин, которые респонденты приводили в качестве аргументации в отказе от участия в выборах были косвенными («нет времени», «не находились дома в тот момент», «невозможность регистрации биометрических данных», «отсутствие имен в списке избирателей») и добровольными («отсутствие интереса и доверия к политике»). Данные, полученные в ходе исследования, утверждают, что на участие в выборах оказывает влияние ряд социально демографических характеристик, убеждений и практик.

Исследование проводилось при поддержке USAID и Office for Research, AUCA.

Мехригюль Аблезова, старший преподаватель факультета Социологии, Магистратура в Социологии.
Галина Горборукова, старший преподаватель факультета Социологии, Доктор Социологических наук.
Ширин Туменбаева, преподаватель факультета Социологии, Магистратура в Политологии.



September 19, 2017

Dr. Viktoria Akchurina

State as Social Practice: Sources, Resource, and Forces in Central Asia


My research is about state and society relations in Central Asia. It examines statehood comparatively in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Despite having made different political, economic, and institutional choices at independence in 1991, these countries arrived at the same outcome today: an incomplete state. In framing the problem as the incomplete state, this research shifts the conventional emphasis away from symptoms of state weakness toward those processes that contribute to it. It highlights the fact that the state can simultaneously be both strong and weak, omnipresent and absent. It is the blurring of the line between state and non-state, public and private, legal and illegal, formal and informal which matters for a better understanding of the state. Drawing from Charles Tilly and Michal Mann, I suggest that these shadow areas generate processes of interstitial emergence that may either undermine or strengthen the state. The outcome generated by such processes is dependent on the balance between state autonomy and state embeddedness. I argue that the incomplete state is a result of three sets of factors—historical, external, and local—that directly or indirectly produce processes that are counter-productive to the current state-building process. Specifically, the research focuses on the societal legacy of the Soviet statehood, the strategies of state-building provided by external actors, and the balance of power between rival local elites. It demonstrates how each of these sets of factors contribute to the creation or development of sites of social resistance and the chasm between the state and society in each of the three given cases. Further, it identifies three important processes. Firstly, structural changes taken for granted following the dissolution of the Soviet Union have not necessarily altered cross-border societal interdependence at the grassroots. Secondly, the strategies pursued by external actors have indirectly created isolated pockets of land, empowered community-based civil activism and facilitated informal trade. Finally, while state elites strengthened the institution of the state, they turned it into a tool for legitimizing illicit revenues rather than a means to increase its infrastructural power. States and societies in the region have become isolated from one another. These states, empowered only in the institutional sense, have become empty shells. The societies, empowered without the state, have become captives within a game of survival. It seems that the state cannot be complete without becoming social.

Viktoria Akchurina defended her doctoral dissertation—titled “State as Social Practice: Sources, Resources, and Forces in Central Asia”—in January 2016. The thesis is about state and society relations in Central Asia. It examines state-building processes comparatively in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Viktoria conducted independent field research on Islamic resistance movements in Central Asia in 2012 and 2014. She worked as a researcher for the OSCE Office in Dushanbe, International Women’s Media Foundation in Washington, and the Defence Council under the President of the Kyrgyz Republic in Bishkek. Her main research interests include state-building, governance, social radicalization, and social engineering.
She speaks fluently English, German, Italian, and Russian (mother tongue).


American University of Central Asia
7/6 Aaly Tokombaev Street
Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic 720060

Tel.: +996 (312) 915000 + Еxt.
Fax: +996 (312) 915 028
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