Tajikistan's Imagined Women
(George Mason University)
Tajikistan's Imagined Women by Shahnoza Nozimova In contemporary Tajikistan, the onus of national identity (re-)production has been disproportionately placed on women. Decisions about female bodies, way of dress, and duties and limits of the women's roles in the public and private spaces, all serve as important differentiating markers and mobilization tools for the competing ideological forces. By integrating insights from scholarship on symbolic nation-building and gender and nationalism, this paper explores the official (government) narrative on women in Tajikistan and dissects the ideological underpinnings of its central elements in defining the roles of the women in the post-conflict Tajikistan. This paper, based on content analysis of various primary data: official documents, government publications, official speeches and media sources, presents details of the national discourse on women as emanating from the official government standpoint. I argue that the government of Tajikistan has been increasingly defining belonging to the Tajik nation in terms of a particular code of behavior and sartorial choices of women. Thus, nationhood in Tajikistan has acquired a recognizably gendered character. Namely, in this state-promoted imagination, women encapsulate the Tajik nation by performing three major tasks that continuously reproduce and represent the nation: they bear, rear and wear the Tajik nation-state. We live in a world where no matter the type of human interaction one looks at - social, economic, or political - fundamentally, they are all gendered. We also live in a particular historic period where the need for recognition of the gendered reality and assessment of its consequences is entering into the center of the public sphere. In the context of political science as a discipline, there also has a been a gradual shift from viewing "gender issues" as a policy matter focused on the nebulous "role of the women in the society" to exploring the gendered nature of the very institutions and phenomena that are at the heart of the field. However, far from being at the endpoint, the integration of gender into political science research agenda appears to be ever more relevant to explaining the surge of the "cultural politics" or conservative reactions to multiculturalism across the globe. The importance of gender is gaining a similar momentum in the study of the nationalism and nation-building the. Albeit, Central Asian research is noticeably lagging in incorporating theories of gender into the analysis of the nation-building processes. This paper aims to bridge that gap.
Women, Agency and Identity in Central Asia