Eurasian Studies Program invites you to a public lecture by Florian Mühlfried (University of Jena) Sept 7, 7:30 p.m., Block C3, 2004.

“We Love Death more than You Love Life” What Jihadists, Thieves in Law and Abreks from the Caucasus Have in Common

In a recent book, Oliver Roy argues that a significant part of the global appeal of the Islamic State lies in its death romanticisation equally popular in youth culture and shared by other millenialist revolutionary movements. This argument is problematic as it entails a high degree of speculation about jihadists’ ‘real’ motivation and attitude. Still, it importantly directs our attention to the cultural embeddedness of the figure of death seeker as well as its fictive genealogies. In my presentation, I will follow this thread and outline a genealogy of role models centred on the motive of embracing death while still alive. All of these role models are vividly present in contemporary discourses all over the Caucasus. The first role model is the so- called Abrek, a Caucasian bandit-come-rebel elevated to resistance fighter in the 19th century. The second is the ‘thief in law’, a criminal authority emerging from the Soviet prison camp system who, in later years, was often a Georgian. The third is the jihadi fighter of late, who has joined the international movement and commits suicide bombings in the Caucasus and beyond. In all three cases, embracing death is represented as a means of empowerment, and those who have allegedly transcended the fear of death are praised as much more powerful than their adversaries (even though these may be more powerful technically). By tracing some cultural roots of the death cult in the ideology of jihadi fighters from the Caucasus, the discourse on global jihadism is purposefully provincialized; the aim is to de-mystify global jihadism and to identify areas of intersection between jihadi ideology and local countercultures.

Bio: Florian Mühlfried teaches in the Caucasus Studies Program at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena. He is the author of Being a State and States of Being in Highland Georgia (2014) and Post-Soviet Feasting: The Georgian Banquet in Transition (2006, in German). His research interests include issues of citizenship, the state, ritual, feasting, and mistrust.

The public lecture is given within the framework of the Joint Central Asia/South Caucasus Projects Summer School and is funded by Volkswagen Foundation

Eurasian Studies Program invites you to a public lecture by Svetlana Jacquesson (AUCA) Sept 6, 7:30 p.m., Block C3, 2004.

Empowered by Translocality? Affordances and Constraints of a Research Perspective

In this presentation, I will speak for a team of scholars, and I hope I will do it correctly. I will start by outlining the conceptual frameworks of a research project on “Translocal Goods – Education, Work and Commodities between Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, China and the Arab Emirates” funded by the Volkswagen foundation in 2013. This outline will be articulated around “translocality”, and why and how it was found useful for studying Central Asia. In this part of my presentation, I will mostly follow Manja Stephan-Emmrich and Philipp Schroeder — two of the leading members of the project who introduced translocality as a research perspective to the team — though I will also emphasize aspects of translocality that I “discovered” by myself. Second, I will offer a review of the ways in which the translocal perspective was applied by a team of scholars of Central Asia, me included. Though I will speak as truthfully as possible for my colleagues, I will spend more time on my own contribution since it is here that I feel most confident. I will finish by some reflections on research perspectives, their affordances and constraints, and on the role of research perspectives in the research projects funded by the Volkswagen foundation. Surprisingly or not, my concluding reflections will connect again to some of the insights that translocality can offer as a research perspective.

The public lecture is given within the framework of the Joint Central Asia/South Caucasus Projects Summer School and is funded by Volkswagen Foundation

Bio:

Svetlana Jacquesson is the director of the Central Asian Studies Institute at the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and head of the MA program in Central Asian studies at the same university. She holds a PhD in ethnology (2000) from the National Institute of Oriental Languages and the High School for Social Sciences in Paris, France. After her PhD, she was first elected research fellow at the French Institute for Central Asian Studies in Tashkent, Uzbekistan (2000-2003), then a senior research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, Germany (2006-2009). In 2010-2012, she was a Volkswagen Stiftung grant holder at the Centre for Interdisciplinary studies of Martin Luther University in Halle, Germany.

Department of Kazakh Language and Turkic Studies and the Eurasian Studies Program invites you to a public lecture by Julia McLean, UCLA, August 25, 3 p.m.- 4:30 p.m., 8.105

The Taste of Place and the Nature of Trust: Zhailau Foods in Post-Socialist Kazakhstan In contemporary Kazakhstan, as among other industrial and post-industrial societies, ideas surrounding rurally-sourced foods extend beyond questions of urban-industrial hygiene or quality control, and point more powerfully to the perceived moralities instilled in foods sourced from different places. These places may […]

Volkswagen Foundation Central Asia/South Caucasus Projects Joint Summer School to take place at Nazarbayev University in Astana from September 4 to September 10, 2017.

We have four to five places left in the summer school and we invite participation from local scholars and practitioners. To take part in the school, please, send your CV and a paragraph stating your interest to abissenova@nu.edu.kz.

The purpose of this one-week summer school is to join forces, facilitate exchange, and sharpen the analytical tools among several projects funded through the Volkswagen Foundation’s Central Asia/South Caucasus programme. Four funded projects are particularly close with regard to their approaches and methods. They specifically focus on the bottom-up emergence of new orders from an ethnographically informed perspective and share questions on how environments and geographies are shaped by and in turn shape societies in Central Asia and the South Caucasus. We therefore expect substantial and sustainable cross-fertilisation from among young and senior researchers from all participating projects. The summer school also offers a number of places for local scholars who are not attached to any of the participating projects and welcomes a broad academic and non-academic audience to its public lectures, keynote speeches, and round tables.

Participating projects:

Fluid mobilities for cities in transformation – spatial dynamics of marshrutkas in Central Asia and the South Caucasus 
The research and network project involves two postdocs, as well as five Ph.D. candidates based in Central Asia and the South Caucasus, each co-supervised by a German and a “local” senior researcher. Each contributing project makes use of the Marshrutkas mobility phenomenon as an entry point to the analysis of socio-spatial transformation in urban areas of the target region.

The “Social Life” of a River: environmental histories, social worlds and conflict resolution along the Naryn-Syr Darya
In this project, a team of two PhDs and three postdocs from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Germany investigate the social and environmental history of the Naryn and Syr Darya rivers, from the mid-20th century to the present day. We use historically-informed ethnographic methods in order to elucidate relationships between space, power, symbols and land use. The project draws on concepts of moral economy, political ecology and alternative concepts of ‘nature’.

Informal markets and trade in Central Asia and the Caucasus
This research project involves two Ph.D. and four master students from Central Asia and the Caucasus, who are co-supervised by an international team of senior researchers. Each of the Ph.D. and MA projects investigates local marketplaces and local traders in Central Asia or the Caucasus, thereby focusing formal and informal frameworks and practices that shape the relationship of state institutions, local value systems, and economic practices.

Translocal Goods – Education, Work, and Commodities between Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, China, and the Arab Emirates
The research project ‘Translocal Goods’ aims to trace some of the vibrant cross-border connections and exchanges between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and the influential regional players Russia, China and the Arab Emirates. The three ethnographic case studies that the project consists of thereby address some of the most significant “goods” circulating in these extensive networks: education, work and commodities. In particular, we examine (1) educational migration within Islamic networks and (2) the commercial-cultural flows of the hijab (veil) trade between Tajikistan and the Arab Emirates; also, (3) we capture trans-local livelihoods in relation to work and commodity trade linking Kyrgyzstan with Russia and China.

New Programme Director!

The MA in Eurasian Studies is proud and happy to announce that Alima Bissenova will take over the duties of programme director at the end of July.

Bissenova

Alima Bissenova is Assistant Professor of Anthropology in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, specialising in Economic Anthropology, Development, Urban Anthropology and the Anthropology of Islam. She has published on the new middle classes in Central Asia, on the growth and development of the city of Astana, and on new forms of religious devotion and sensibility in post-Soviet Central Asia. Her work has appeared in Religion, State and Society, Ab Imperio and Europe-Asia Studies.

Join us in welcoming Alima to her new role!

Congratulations to Xeniya!

We are delighted to announce that Xeniya Prilutskaya from the MA class of 2016 has been accepted onto the doctoral programme at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen with a Research Scholarship within the University’s Excellence Initiative, from October 2017 until September 2020.

Xeniya

Xeniya’s thesis topic will be ‘Perception of air pollution and ecological consciousness in Kazakhstan’, and she will be supervised by  Dr. Jeanne Féaux de la Croix.

Congratulations to Xeniya!

 

 

Viva-voce examination – Thurs 15th June

On Thursday 15th June at 17.45 Dmitriy Mel’nikov will be defending his thesis in a viva-voce examination.

The viva is public and all are welcome to attend.

Room 8.322B, School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Anuar Duisenbinov
Pavel Bannikov
A special edition of Novyi Mir dedicated to modern Kazakhstani Russophone writing.

Title: Toward Russophone Super-Literature: Making Subjectivities, Spaces And Temporalities In Post-Soviet Kazakhstani Russophone Writing

Abstract: This thesis is devoted to the analysis of literary works by a number of the leading post-Soviet Russophone Kazakhstani writers: Anuar Duisenbinov, Bakhyt Kairbekov, Diusenbek Nakipov, Nikolai Verёvochkin, Il’ia Odegov and Iurii Serebrianskii. Kazakhstan is a country where Russian literature has been developing quite successfully since the collapse of the USSR. There has been a transformation of writing in Russian in Kazakhstan since the country’s independence – with the rise of the new generation of the writers in the 2000s, Russian literature in Kazakhstan transformed into Russophone Kazakhstani literature. In this thesis, I argue for the difference between the younger and older generations of the contemporary Russophone Kazakhstani writers – the latter is focused on post-traumatic sense of loss and absence, while the former is characterized by a more positive identification concentrated on the new national post-independent realities of Kazakhstan. The concept of Russophone super-literature fits most the younger generation of the authors. The main argument of the thesis is that Russophone Kazakhstani literature is a supralinguistic and supracultural realm where complex subjectivities of Russophone Kazakh-ness, “other” Russian-ness and Kazakhstani-ness are produces and expressed. While increasing their community, the younger writers reconsider the imperial and colonial aspects of Russian-ness, incorporate (Russian-Kazakh) bilingualism, keep pace with literary modernity, accumulate their international literary capital and seek for independence from the political and nationalizing agendas of both Kazakhstan and Russia. Despite its growing importance, post-Soviet Russophone Kazakhstani literature is almost unexplored in English-language scholarship. While relying on textual analysis of prose and poetry as well as on in-depth interviews with the Kazakhstani writers, I conclude that now Russophone Kazakhstani literature demonstrates a high degree of vitality, first of all by nurturing new generations of Russophone writers in the Almaty Open Literary School; however, the bright possible future of the literature should not be overestimated, because of a number of problems such as poor national book market, the lack of audience and the continuing de-Russification of the country.

Internal Advisers: Victoria Thorstensson, Alima Bissenova & Gabriel McGuire

External Adviser: Prof Rossen Djagalov, New York University

 

 

Conference Announcement: Eurasian Migration, Past & Present. 18-19 May 2017

Eurasian Migration, Past & Present – Living Cross-Cultural Lives

18-19 May, 2017

Nazarbayev University

Block C3, Room 1010

Dungans in the village of Karakunuz (modern-day Masanchi), 1909. Source: http://rus-turk.livejournal.com/340163.html)

 

May 18:

9.30: Opening statements/welcome, Block C3, Room 1010

Panel 1

10.00-12.00: Living and Working in Places of Settlement

Chair: Zohra Ismail Beben, Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan)

Discussant: Caress Schenk, Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan)

Papers:

Michaela Pohl, Vassar College (US)

In the Streets of the Virgin Lands/Na ulitsakh tseliny

Madeleine Reeves, University of Manchester (UK)

Out of Synch? Labor, Time, and Deportability in Moscow’s Migrant Economy

Rano Turaeva, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology (Germany)

Migrant communities and Mosques in Moscow

Sergey Ryazantsev, Institute of Socio-Political Research, Russian Academy of Science (Russia)

Migrants from East and Southeast Asia on the Russian labour market

12.00-13.30: Lunch break

Panel 2

13.30-15.15: Living Betwixt and Between

Chair: Gwen McEvoy, Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan)

Discussant: Alima Bissenova, Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan)

Papers:

Elena Borisova, University of Manchester (UK)

Being immobile at a time of mass migration: labour migrants with re-entry bans in northern Tajikistan

Igor Savin, South-Kazakhstan State University and Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences

Main tendencies of return migration from Central Asia to Kazakhstan [Основные тенденции возвратной миграции из Центральной Азии в Казахстан] (in Russian)

Irina Kuznetsova, University of Birmingham (UK)

Refugees from Eastern Ukraine in Russia: experiences, policies and discourse in the context of forced migration from the Ukraine conflict

15.15-15.45: Coffee break

Panel 3

15:45-17:30: The Impact and Legacies of ‘Hard’ Borders in the USSR

Chair: Kris Rees, Indiana University East

Discussant: Alexander Morrison, Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan)

Papers:

Jeff Sahadeo, Carleton University (Canada)

Our House is/was the Soviet Union: Migration, Internal Borders and Identity in the late USSR

Alima Bissenova, Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan)

“Songy Kosh” (Last Migration) – Mass Sino-Soviet Migration of Kazakhs from 1955 to 1962

Jeremy Smith, University of Eastern Finland

Stranded migrants: the break-up of the USSR and the impact of new international borders on national minorities

Kazakhstan is also becoming a destination for migrant workers. Source: http://migrant.ferghana.ru/newslaw/из-россии-в-казахстан-трудовая-миграц.html

May 19

Panel 4

9.00-10.45: Navigating home: Migrants and Sending Countries

Chair: Aziz Burkhanov, Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan)

Discussant: Madeleine Reeves, University of Manchester (UK)

Papers:

Ted Gerber, University of Wisconsin-Madison (US)

Labor migrant experiences in Russia: Views from back home

Helene Thibault, Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan)

Polygyny in the context of Tajik labour migration

Malika Tukmadieva, Independent Scholar (Kazakhstan)

Curse or Blessing? Official Rhetoric on Emigration in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

10.45-11.15: Coffee Break

Panel 5

11.15-13.00: Migrants and the Host State

Chair: Maja Savevska, Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan)

Discussant: Ted Gerber, University of Wisconsin-Madison (US)

Papers:

Emil Nasretdinov, The American University of Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan)

The Effect of Kyrgyzstan’s Accession to EEU on the Life of Kyrgyz Migrants in Moscow

Irina Chernikh, Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies

Ethnic Immigration in Kazakhstan: Regional Specificities, Dynamic, Model of adaptation

Caress Schenk, Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan)

Does Corruption Increase Opportunities for Migrants in Eurasia?

13.00-14.00: Lunch break

Panel 6

14.00-15.45: Migrants and the Host Society

Chair: Caress Schenk, Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan)

Discussant: Jeff Sahadeo, Carleton University (Canada)

Papers:

Alexander Morrison, Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan)

On Dunganskaya Street – Colonial Vernyi as a plural society

Elena Sadovskaya, Center for Conflict Management (Kazakhstan)

Rise of anti-Chinese sentiments in Kazakhstan in the context of land lease to China in 2016: background, dynamics and prospects

Natalya Kosmarskaya, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences (Russia)

Exploring Regional Specifics of Everyday Xenophobia in Russia: Case-Study of Moscow and Krasnodar

15.45-16.00: Coffee Break

Panel 7

16.00-17.45: Crossing Borders: the Logistics of Mobility in a World of Changing Borders

Chair: Helene Thibault, Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan)

Discussant: John Schoeberlein, Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan)

Papers:

Olga Tkach, Centre for Independent Social Research, St. Petersburg (Russia)

The Unbearable Lightness of the Finnish Schengen: Visa Strategies of Russian Visitors to Finland

Natalya Zotova, The Ohio State University (US)

Russia’s “Stop-List” and Central Asian Migrants: New Dimensions of Human Insecurity

Sergei Abashin , European University of St Petersburg (Russia)

Crisis, circular migration, and returning home: migrants between Russia and Central Asia (in Russian)

All Welcome!

Viva-voce examinations – Wed 10th May

On Wednesday 10th May from 15.00 two students from the MA in Eurasian Studies will be defending their theses in a viva-voce examination. The vivas are public and all are welcome to attend.

Room 8.322B, School of Humanities and Social Sciences

15.00 – 15.45 Saltanat Boteu

‘The Perception of Volunteering Experiences of Young Volunteers in Kazakhstan’

This thesis  focuses on volunteering as a modern phenomenon that has emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union in Kazakhstan. The volunteering phenomenon has been neglected by social science research in Kazakhstan. Therefore, this study was undertaken to investigate the emergence of volunteering as a new unexplored social process. Particularly, I explore how perceptions of young volunteers form during their volunteering experience, that helps to understand the position of volunteer in Kazakhstani society. This thesis heavily relies on interviews with volunteers and key informants. In addition, I review the laws of Kazakhstan related to non-governmental and non-profit sector that indirectly touches upon volunteering and the recent Draft Law on volunteering (June 16, 2015). The thesis includes the opinions of experts, volunteers and government representatives on volunteers’ position and volunteering phenomenon in Kazakhstan. I explored the notion of volunteering in Kazakhstan, the opinions of participants on their motivations and the benefits from volunteering, the main issues that influence perception and motivation of volunteers in relationships with other actors (society, the state, volunteering organisation). The contribution of the study is the model of the relationships of volunteers with other actors, illustrating how the relationship between volunteers and the state, society and volunteering organisations are important for the volunteering sphere overall.

Internal advisers: Sofiya An & Zbigniew Wojnowski
External adviser: Professor Azamat Junisbai, Pitzer College

15.45 – 16.30 Aliya Tazhibayeva

‘The Internationalisation of Higher Education in Post-Soviet Kazakhstan: State Policies and Institutional Practices?’

This thesis deals with the interpretation and implementation of the internationalisation of higher education in Kazakhstan at national and institutional levels. The goal of the study is to find out how internationalisation of higher education is defined in the national policy documentation and in universities’ development strategies on education, how that interpretation is similar/different to those appearing in academic literature, and how it is reflected in the universities’ practices of internationalisation. As the research results illustrate, national and state higher education institutions in Kazakhstan are dependent on state policies in terms of internationalisation, though some freedom is given to universities in academic mobility and international cooperation, and limited by governmental funding for internationalisation activities. Kazakhstani universities plan and implement only the feasible elements of internationalisation, thus minimising the risk of failure.

Internal Advisers: Sofiya An & Jack Lee (GSE)

External Adviser: Professor Martha Merrill, Kent State University