Blood Ties and the Native Son

Blood Ties and the Native Son

Poetics of Patronage in Kyrgyzstan
Aksana Ismailbekova
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 05/22/2017
Format: Hardback 20 b&w illus., 3 maps, 5 tables
ISBN: 978-0-253-02528-9
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A pioneering study of kinship, patronage, and politics in Central Asia, Blood Ties and the Native Son tells the story of the rise and fall of a man called Rahim, an influential and powerful patron in rural northern Kyrgyzstan, and of how his relations with clients and kin shaped the economic and social life of the region. Many observers of politics in post-Soviet Central Asia have assumed that corruption, nepotism, and patron-client relations would forestall democratization. Looking at the intersection of kinship ties with political patronage, Aksana Ismailbekova finds instead that this intertwining has in fact enabled democratization—both kinship and patronage develop apace with democracy, although patronage relations may stymie individual political opinion and action.

Author Bio

Aksana Ismailbekova is an affiliated researcher at Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology.


“This book is an important contribution to a growing literature on Central Asian politics and society, and by complicating dominant narratives about the dangers of weak state institutions, Ismailbekova has much to offer to the broader research project on democratisation and clientelism.”
 — Europe-Asia Studies

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Table of Contents

Foreword: On Native Sons, Fake Brothers, and Big Men / Peter Finke
Note on Transliteration
List of Acronyms
Introduction: The Native Son and Blood Ties
1. Kinship and Patronage in Kyrgyz History
2. Scales of Rahim’s Kinship: Zooming In and Zooming Out
3. "Renewing the Bone": Kinship Categories, Practices and Patronage Networks in Bulak Village
4. The Irony of the Circle of Trust: The Dynamics and Mechanism of Patronage on the Private Farm
5. Patronage and Poetics of Democracy
6. The Return of the Native Son: The Symbolic Construction of the Election Day
7. Rahim’s Victory Feast: Political Patronage and Kinship in Solidarity
Concluding words: Native son, Democratisation, and Poetics of Patronage
Glossary of Local Terms