Looking inside the Dordoi bazaar

by Philippe Rudaz

Stuck between China and Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan is located in one of the main arteries of globalization. The Dordoi bazaar in the outskirts of Bishkek is absorbing all kind of goods, most of them from China, and reselling them to Russian, Kazak and Kyrgyz intermediaries or retail clients. The bazaar is a giant maze, made of approximately 40’000 containers with alleys that can stretch along 1 kilometer. Continue reading

Post-Soviet (Caucasian) Businessmen in Beijing: From “Chelnoki” to “Globalization from Below”

by Susanne Fehlings

Informal economy has become a topic of many recent studies concerned with Soviet and post-Soviet economy. The current debates discuss whether informality (not regulated by the state) has a negative effect on national economies or whether it is, and should be, an integral part of a liberal market system. But before discussing the pros and cons of informality it is worth to have a closer look at the representatives of informal practices, who, among others, are so-called petty traders. Continue reading

Altyn Saat – The Social Life of Gold Watches in the Afghan Pamirs.

by Tobias Marschall

The “Seiko Panj”, as Afghans renamed the quartz wristwatch produced in Japan, is sold cheap on Afghan markets. “Seiko” stands for the Japanese manufacturer and “Panj”, the Persian word for five, hints to the five years guarantee logos that accompany the product. “It was hip to wear one ten years ago,” as an Afghan friend told me, “now, everybody has a Seiko Panj in Afghanistan.”  Continue reading

Soviet Frunze – a Centre of Space Research?

by Mohira Suyarkulova
When one strolls along the streets of Bishkek, the capital of the Kyrgyz Republic, it never registers that this city was once a centre for space research. A modest building on Toktogul Street, which is now home to textile sweatshops, once housed a unique institution with a long cryptic abbreviated name – OKB IKI AN SSSR (Особое конструкторское бюро Института космических исследований Академии наук СССР), which when translated from Russian stands for “Special design bureau of the Institute of space research of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR”. Continue reading

A soldier’s story. Afghan War veterans and Soviet patriotism in Tajikistan.

by Markus Göransson

P1160694When Zafar was a platoon commander in Afghanistan during the Soviet war of 1979-1989, he put together an album that he has kept until this day. He labelled the album “Memory of Service” and studded its pages with photographs from his service and text cuttings that praised the Soviet military. On one page he stuck a banner that read “Glory to the defenders of the motherland”. On another he glued stickers of the Soviet army insignia and the Soviet navy flag. Some of his photographs show him standing proudly in his uniform, his face determined, in Afghan landscapes. Continue reading