Who Is Benefiting from the New Pasture Management Reform in Kyrgyzstan?

by Ulan Kasymov

KasymovRearing livestock has always been a vital part of life according to the ancient nomadic traditions of Kyrgyzstan. Despite the slow but steady encroachment of modernity this still remains true for the majority of rural communities today. Many households rely on livestock as part of their livelihood, but as the number of hooves multiply, so do the problems associated with poor pasture management. Pastures close to villages are overgrazed, and remote summer pastures are often underutilized because of decaying infrastructure and their remoteness. Such coordination problems, partially a symptom of the Soviet Union’s collapse, are being tackled through a variety of measures since the pasture legislation reform was introduced in 2009. Yet, reforms need to be undertaken with caution as changes to the laws that govern pasture management can have a serious impact on the way pastures are locally negotiated, allocated and how disputes are resolved. Continue reading

‘How do I get across?’: Food in Central Asia

by Malgorzata Biczyk

Malgorzata-BiczykA man named Nasreddin had been sitting on a river bank when someone shouted to him from the opposite side, “Hey! How do I get across?” Nasreddin responded with “You are across”.

In the context of Central Asian cuisine, ‘crossing the river’ might have also the meaning of crossing over some basic truths. Food has by nature the capacity to keep a memory vivid. However, the longer I eat and smell Central Asian food, the more I get the feeling of a kind of food-related romantic paradox. Everyone wants to cross the river to taste the food of others, whilst forgetting about the value of their own local specialties. Take osh (a form of Central Asian rice) for instance. Whose osh is better is probably a question that is, if not as old as the world, then at least as old as the city of Osh itself. Continue reading

The Revival of Spiritual Healing in Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan

by Danuta Penkala-Gawęcka

D. Penkala-Gawęcka[1] My anthropological research in Bishkek between 2011-2013 focused on people’s health-seeking strategies and choices, and means of protection against illness. City dwellers can choose between many options, ranging from offers provided by state and private medical institutions, through treatments from the margins of biomedicine, like acupuncture or leech therapy, to methods rooted in local traditional healing. Moreover, various home remedies usually serve as a first resort in case of affliction. Continue reading

Reading Dostoyevsky in English: A Who Dunnit in Khorog, Tajikistan

by Brook Bolander

picture for blog You meet people in Khorog who read Dostoyevsky in English, and others who barely speak a word of English. Nestled in Tajikistan’s Pamir mountains, just over 2000 metres above sea level, the city of Khorog is home to a population of approximately 30,000 people, the majority of whom are native speakers of Shugni. Other predominant languages are Tajik and Russian, both of which used to be official languages. Yet since Tajik was made the country’s sole official language through President Emomali Rahmon’s 2009 law “On the state language of the Republic of Tajikistan”, it has been gaining ground at the expense of Russian, at least in official institutions. Continue reading

What Future Does Coal Have in Kazakhstan?

by Almaz Akhmetov

Almaz AkhmetovPower derived from coal is an intrinsic part of daily lives in Kazakhstan in the form of electricity, heat and hot water. Coal has been a backbone of industrial development of Kazakhstan since the beginning of the 20th century, thanks to abundant reserves and relatively low mining costs. While oil and natural gas export earnings are the main drivers of economic growth of the country, coal is almost solely utilized for domestic purposes. Continue reading