Osh redux? Uzbeks, Kyrgyz and the city after the 2010 conflict
(University of St Andrews)
Drawing on fieldwork conducted in the Spring of 2018 (and more generally over the past two decades), the paper interrogates the state of the relations between Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities in the city of Osh. Post-2010 Osh has been rebuilt, partly with the intent of redesigning urban city-scape. Old markets are less buzzing than in the past, and a whole range of new high rises have appeared, including a rather unusual 16-storey apartment bloc. Has Osh's social fabric been restored and wounds healed or are old and new grievances simply hidden under a veneer of stability and brand new building and infrastructure? The paper revisits developments at local level, paying special attention to local initiatives aimed at conflict prevention and the re-integration of communities. Yet, the two communities, a few exceptions aside, remain segregated. Overall, the paper advances the following claims: One, despite some progress, tensions between communities remain. Grievances have not been addressed and tensions between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz continue to linger beneath the surface. Two, Osh is now visibly more Kyrgyz. By contrast, Uzbeks have withdrawn from public life. Crucially, mutual distrust across communities, the distrust by one community in the law enforcement system and the absence of a shared narrative of the 2010 conflict all suggest that the situation on the ground is volatile. Order in Osh remains vulnerable eight years after the bloody conflict of 2010.
Politics and Identity in Kyrgyzstan