Value conflicts in bringing up a "healthy" child in Kyrgyzstan
(Goethe University Frankfurt am Main)
This paper focuses on value conflicts among Kyrgyz Muslims who started to be heavily engaged in discussions related to the proper way of living. One of the visible changes in the idea of leading a healthy lifestyle is linked to the revival of Islam in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan. The supporters of the version of Islam that is currently spreading in Kyrgyzstan follow the religious norms mentioned in the Quran and other Islamic sources. This has affected people's traditional lifestyle, beliefs and practices and brought changes in their cultural values and social relations. Many old practices that they used to follow are now seen as 'unhealthy'. The value conflicts become especially visible when it comes to the notion of bringing up a "healthy" child. Children's healthy growth is not only limited to their physical health; it also means the development of a child with proper moral education, the conduct of culturally defined health and life-cycle rituals, as well as a child who is 'culturally nourished'. This work is based on recent ethnographic materials collected in the northern part of Kyrgyzstan between 2012 and 2013 on the topic of personhood, childhood and children's healthy growth. By concentrating on the topic of the "healthy lifestyle", in this paper I aim to look at the relationship between contrasting values of Kyrgyz Muslims. Mainly, this paper deals with value conflicts caused by reformed Islam and Kyrgyz salt (Kyrgyz tradition). I argue that in the time of uncertainty, where this uncertainty itself is seen 'unhealthy', religion serves as a resource that promises to grant health and good life to people, by making the salt vs. Islam contradiction even more explicit.
Religion in Social Context