Early Soviet policies of women’s emancipation in the Kazakh steppes

by Mohira Suyarkulova

korkpoThis post reflects on a controversial and ambivalent page of Central Asia’s history by turning to a booklet authored by Antonina Nurkhat – a women’s movement activist from Bashkortostan, who worked and travelled widely in Central Asia in the 1920s –“Nomadic Yurts: On the Work of Women’s Red Yurts” (Tsentrizdat, 1929). This lively brochure, written as a dialogue with women-activists working in a so-called ‘red yurt’ in Kazakhstan, gives the reader a glimpse into a fascinating local history of khujum – early Soviet campaigning for emancipation of women in Central Asia. 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

Rural Teachers in Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan

by Damira Umetbaeva

“During the Soviet Union teachers earned and lived like ministers.”

“In the past teachers were respected by everyone, even by the president, because they earned well and had a strong knowledge.”

These are the accounts of Janarbek about his position as a teacher in the past, told from his present socio-economic status as a teacher. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the quality of education in Kyrgyzstan, as did the quality of many other public services, decreased substantially. Since the break-up of the USSR, the country has not managed to support this sector well, which along with many others, had been generously subsidised by the Soviet state. As a result, there are many acute problems in the education sphere and if these are not addressed soon, they will lead to the total collapse of Kyrgyzstan’s education sector. Continue reading