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

Missing Girls: Sex-Selective Abortions in the South Caucasus

by Melanie Krebs

AutorenfotoAt times during fieldwork you get the impression that nothing will surprise you anymore. You have heard the most unexpected stories in the strangest situations and what seemed to be alien at the beginning has become part of everyday life. And then something happens that catches you completely off guard. For me it was the casual comment a member of PINK Armenia, a sexual rights organization in Yerevan, made during an interview:  “… and then we have all the abortions of girls. In this way we have outnumbered China and India over the previous years.” Looking at my shocked face he asked, “You did know that, didn’t you?” No, I did not. But as I learned over the next days, I was the only one. It seems the fact that (according to the CIA factbook) there are 114 boys born for every 100 girls in Armenia was the best-known secret in the country. And Armenia is no exception in the South Caucasus: The rate in Azerbaijan is 112 boys to every 100 girls and with 108 to 100, Georgia is better but still higher than the “natural” rate of 105 to 100. 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