The Sovietization of the Yssyk-Kul lake: dynamics of change and adaptation to fluid environments
Nurzat Sultanalieva (Asia-Orient Institute)
Paper short abstract:
Social and spatial dynamics that have been taking place at the Yssyk-Kul lake in Kyrgyzstan since 1991, and the massive land territories that were once collective farms, operated by the central apparatus have been rapidly privatized in favour of tourism and entrepreneurship.
Paper long abstract:
Often disregarded as being a constant object in Kyrgyz mountainous landscape, the Yssyk-Köl lake in Kyrgyzstan has changed its tangible and intangible value in the eyes of the people living near it numerous times: from that of an awed and practically unused waterscape in everyday economy, to that of a fishing industry and tourist attraction. 1950's were a time, when the lake took its course on becoming a tourist attraction for health sanatorias and resorts with the Soviet policy of developing domestic tourism and leisure. It was also a time, when the healing properties of the water, as believed by the local populations, were put into medicalized terms to refer to the water qualities of the lake, which naturally brought a slow diversion of the 'inherent' and 'essential' healing properties of the sacred lake. The paper looks at the social and spatial dynamics that have been taking place at the Yssyk-Kul lake and its coastal area since 1991, when Kyrgyzstan acquired its independence, and tourism has been given a state-level importance for the economic growth of the country. The massive land territories that were once collective farms, operated by the central apparatus and state-owned guest houses have been rapidly privatized in favour of developing tourism and private entrepreneurship. The region around the lake, though representing a single administrative union is very diverse, which is reflected in the ways people have been adapting their livelihoods to developing tourism, economic and social transitions that the country has been going through.
Dwelling on water: mobilities, immobilities and metaphors