Nora Webb Williams (University of Georgia)
Send message to Convenor
- Room B12
- Saturday 12 October, 11:00-12:45 (UTC+0)
Author:Moira O'Shea (University of Chicago)
Paper long abstract:
Monuments that stand in capital cities have often been studied symbolically as representations of desires on the parts of elites or governments to emphasize certain aspects of ideology or to create an ontology of the nation as a whole. This is perhaps especially true in the former Soviet Union, where the connection between symbol and political ideology has a long and powerful history, and where there have been notable examples of the re-writing of symbolic landscapes in the post-Soviet period.
In Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, there are many monuments that exist from the Soviet period as well as a plethora of new monuments, which might be said to reflect post-Soviet political ideologies and processes of nation-building. However, these monuments are not always direct reflections of political will, but are rather the outcome of work by multiple groups from social funds, to architects and sculptors, to city government. These groups must balance sometimes conflicting desires; for example, the wish for greater representational importance, such as having a monument in the center of the city, with practical considerations such as availability of space and funds, or aesthetic considerations of how a design will fit within the city as a whole. This perspective extends approaches to monuments as symbolic objects, suggesting the necessity of seeing these objects also as material outcomes of multiple desires and decision-making processes.
In this paper, I explore the material and social aspects of constructing monuments in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, asking how ideological and pragmatic constraints and desires combine in this sphere to produce symbolic material objects. Through interviews and archival research, I investigate the processes of constructing public art in the form of monuments, including the conditions under which these processes are more or less open, the kinds of desires that various groups express in their professional capacities, and the material and spatial constraints which are inherent to this sphere of production of culture.
Author:Aisulu Raspayeva (Rice University)
Paper long abstract:
Mealtime narratives provide insight into the social world of a community as demonstrated, for example, by Ochs and Taylor's (1995) work on gender dynamics in middle-class American families. There is a little of such research in post-Soviet Kazakhstan that is experiencing tremendous sociocultural changes, including a revival of their Kazakh identity by overcoming a colonial Soviet past (e.g., Kesici 2011). Applying the idea of three levels of positioning in narrative (e.g., Bamberg & Georgakopoulou, 2008), I examine five personal narratives out of the set of twenty-five ones collected in a small Kazakh-speaking village in the north of Kazakhstan. The selected narratives involve Kazakhs and out-group members (people from other ethnic/national backgrounds) and revolve around the themes of economic development, financial resources, food, and family. I show how Kazakh narrators construct their ethnic identities through positioning Russian and American characters as more advanced in terms of economic and financial resources in the story worlds. The events in the story world effectively support the narrators' claims in the storytelling world, while also reflecting larger current ideological discourses of Russia's and the West's leading roles in the Central Asian region and world. In contrast, in the stories about food and family values, the narrators construct their ethnic identities by positioning the Kazakh characters as morally positive; these stories receive endorsement from the audience by way of alignment construction. The themes and identities created mirror current nation-building discourses that value Kazakh traditions. Collectively, the everyday narratives I examine in this analysis demonstrate how Kazakh identities are constructed through the narratives about the other ethnic groups, and how narrators (re)construct larger ideologies about what it means to be Kazakh. In conclusion, this research reveals the fruitfulness of personal narratives in understanding connections among language, community, and identity.
Author:Zulfiya Imyarova (NARXOZ University)
Paper long abstract:
Role of political entrepreneurs in minority communities
The paper seeks to answer the question: why do some multiethnic states accommodate the cultural and linguistic needs of minority groups, while others do not? The author is interested in explaining why Dungan diaspora in Kyrgyzstan retained the official sponsorship of language and culture (including newspapers, theater in Dungan language), while Dungans of Kazakhstan lost state support for their language studies despite relatively large diaspora. More importantly, in Uzbekistan, which also has a sizable community, Dungan minority had assimilated and does not have any opportunity to ask for recognition of difference. So why is it? All states have official policies of recognizing minorities, but reality varies. The hunch is that the difference is explained by the presence of economic elites that are supported by active political activists, i.e. political entrepreneurs who can channel financial resources into political mobilization and policy change. The author's definition of an ethnic political entrepreneur is someone who is involved in politics often in informal ways, supported by ethnic economic elites, to influence decision making process in neo-patrimonial states in favor of his/her community with small or no personal rewards. The more powerful political entrepreneurs are the more opportunities the minorities have.
The study is mostly based on primary sources, including in-depth interviews with cultural elites of the Dungan communities in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, analyses of official statistics, mass media and published materials on U Dungan Studies
Theory of political entrepreneurship coupled with the enclave and collective theories provide a valuable perspective for understanding these unique systems which appear to benefit one ethnic group to a much greater extent than others. The paper will contribute to better understanding of intra processes in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan as well as in Central Asia.
Keywords: Dungan diaspora, political entrepreneurs, identity, minorities, Central Asia.
Author:Galym Zhussipbek (Suleyman Demirel atindagy Universitet)
Paper long abstract:
The outdated view of culture which assets that culture is "coherent, neatly bounded, and clearly differentiated phenomenon" can be observed in Central Asia. According to this old view, cultural unity and homogeneity makes strong societies whereas cultural diversity seems to be corrosive. However, identity is multiple, and culture should be seen as heterogeneous, contradictory, highly porous phenomenon. Multicultural identity is only one component (albeit the most important) of the more complex and multidimensional notion of multiculturalism. Although there is no commonly accepted definition of multiculturalism, in broad terms it can be defined as the experience of having been exposed to and having internalized two or more different cultures. In view of this definition of multiculturalism could we talk about "multicultural ethnic Kazakh identity"? As such the ethically diverse population of Kazakhstan is discussed within the framework of multiculturalism (multicultural diversity) but not identity of ethnic Kazakhs. However, we think that this kind of discussion concerning the ethnic Kazakh identity is worth exploring. During Soviet period the Kazakhs became exposed to Russian language and Russian culture for decades to the level that the Russian-speaking Kazakhs today constitute a considerable part of ethnic Kazakhs. However, the serious cleavages among Kazakhs and debates about Who is a real Kazakh?, To what extent the language,"traditional" Kazakh way of life, can be claimed as a distinguishing quality of being Kazakh? can be observed. Also we should not overlook the phenomenon of ethnocultural status of religion which seriously limits in practice the implementation of right to choose and confess religious beliefs. As well, globalization influences how people see themselves and others, and young Kazakhs who have become exposed to more liberal and progressive ideas may critically approach paternalistic, patriarchal Kazakhness (the current dominant discourse of Kazakhness tends to be ethnic-primordialist, patriarchal and paternalistic — similar identity discourses can be found in all Central Asian states). Specifically, we want to answer the question "May we apply the concept multiculturalism and multicultural identity to ethnic Kazakhs taking into account the differences of language; way of life (traditionalistic conservative, "Westernised", "Russified", Salafism-inclined ("Arabized") Kazakhs), the Kazakhs converted to other religions); and the ethnic background (mixed families). We think that the acceptance of multicultural identity of ethnic Kazakhs will help develop inclusive society in Kazakhstan since it may constitute a good ground to develop inclusive, egalitarian and progressive discourses of national identity building.