Everyday Life in Central Asia

Everyday Life in Central Asia

Past and Present
Edited by Jefferey Frank Sahadeo and Russell Zanca
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 07/12/2007
Format: Paperback 24 b&w photos, 3 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-21904-6
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For its citizens, contemporary Central Asia is a land of great promise and peril. While the end of Soviet rule has opened new opportunities for social mobility and cultural expression, political and economic dynamics have also imposed severe hardships. In this lively volume, contributors from a variety of disciplines examine how ordinary Central Asians lead their lives and navigate shifting historical and political trends. Provocative stories of Turkmen nomads, Afghan villagers, Kazakh scientists, Kyrgyz border guards, a Tajik strongman, guardians of religious shrines in Uzbekistan, and other narratives illuminate important issues of gender, religion, power, culture, and wealth. A vibrant and dynamic world of life in urban neighborhoods and small villages, at weddings and celebrations, at classroom tables, and around dinner tables emerges from this introduction to a geopolitically strategic and culturally fascinating region.

Author Bio

Jeff Sahadeo is Assistant Professor, Institute of European and Russian Studies and Department of Political Science, Carleton University, Ottawa. He is author of Russian Colonial Society in Tashkent, 1865–1923 (IUP, 2006).

Russell Zanca is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Northeastern Illinois University. He is author of The Big Cotton Collective: Uzbeks after Socialism.


“In this lively volume, contributors from a variety of disciplines examine how ordinary Central Asians lead their lives and navigate shifting historical and political trends.”

“This rich volume should . . . be commended for its comprehensible style making it accessible to nonspecialists in Central Asian societies and to virtually anyone interested in the region.”
 — Ab Imperio

“Sahadeo and Zanca have collected a large range of essays written in a clear and accessible style well suited as a textbook for undergraduate teaching or anyone interested in learning about the region. ”
 — Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

“[A]n excellent and compelling collection of essays . . . . [T]his book is a valuable addition to our understanding of not only a region heavily influenced by the Russian/Soviet colonial legacy, but also of the ways in which the everyday confronts often competing notions of identity. Vol. 9.3 Winter 2008”
 — Robert O. Krikorian, George Washington University

“[A]n excellent study . . . . Readers will be attracted to the richness of the collected stories about the social and cultural diversity of Central Asia. The book provides a sympathetic and insightful analysis of Central Asian societies that face common challenges in their transition to a better life. In sum, this innovative work is a significant contribution to various fields in Central Asian studies.Vol. 53.1 Spring 2009”
 — Anara Tabyshalieva, Institute for Regional Studies, Kyrgyzstan

“[This] book . . . offers to the curious reader a better understanding of Central Asian people, their histories, and everyday lives—a diversity of people who otherwise may have been conceptualized as a grey and anonymous mass, or, worse yet, as mere numbers.October 2008”
 — Irene Hilgers, H-Soyuz

“Part of a series of books on everyday life in various parts of the world, this volume offers essays on the different ways that Central Asians lead their daily lives and navigate shifting historical, political, and economic trends in past and present times. . . . Many of the selections concern the difficult transitions from Soviet rule to independent statehood, restrictions on political and social activity, widening gaps between the rich and the poor, and new opportunities for social mobility and cultural expression. The essays on the varying beliefs and practices of Muslims across this wide region are especially informative. The volume contains illustrations and a listing of the contributors' backgrounds and qualifications. . . . Recommended.”
 — Choice

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Central Asia and Everyday Life
Part One: Background
1.Turks and Tajiks in Central Asian History Scott Levi

Part Two: Communities
2. Everyday Life among the Turkmen Nomads Adrienne Edgar
3. Recollections of a Hazara Wedding in the 1930s Robert Canfield
4. Trouble in Birglich Robert Canfield
5. A Central Asian Tale of Two Cities:Locating Lives and Aspirations in a Shifting Post-Soviet Cityscape Morgan Y. Liu

Part Three: Gender
6. The Limits of Liberation: Gender, Revolution, and the Veil in Everyday Life in Soviet
Uzbekistan Douglas Northrop
7. The Wedding Feast: Living the New Uzbek Life in the 1930s Marianne Kamp
8. Practical Consequences of Soviet Policy and Ideology for Gender in Central Asia and Contemporary Reversal Elizabeth Constantine
9. Dinner with Akhmet Greta Uehling

Part Four: Performance and Encounters
10. An Ethnohistorical Journey through Kazakh Hospitality Paula A. Michaels
11. Konstitutsiya Buzildi: Gender Relations in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan Peter Finke and Meltem Sancak
12. Fat and All That: Good Eating the Uzbek Way Russell Zanca
13. Public and Private Celebrations: Uzbekistan's National Holidays Laura Adams
14. Music Across the Kazakh Steppe Michael Rouland

Part Five: Nation, State, and Society in the Everyday
15. The Shrinking of the Welfare State: Central Asians'Assessments of Soviet and Post-Soviet Governance Kelly McMann
16. Going to School in Uzbekistan Shoshana Keller
17. Alphabet Changes in Turkmenistan: State, Society, and the Everyday, 1904-2004 Victoria Clement
18. Travels in the Margins of the State: Everyday Geography in the Ferghana Valley Borderlands Madeleine Reeves

Part Six: Religion
19. Divided Faith: Trapped between State and Islam in Uzbeki