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From Shanghai to Iug-2 … and What Now? Traces of (Re-)Claiming Bishkek from Multitemporal Fieldwork in Kyrgyzstan

In: Central Asian Affairs
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This article examines practices of (re-)claiming in Bishkek through the prism of “multitemporal fieldwork.” Focusing on the young male residents of a Soviet-era neighborhood, I trace their ways of performing belonging in a rapidly changing urban environment. Most significantly, these men’s coming of age has been accompanied by a gradual detachment from their exclusive focus on a neighborhood community that locally used to be known as Shanghai. Already during our first encounter in 2007, the primary territorial orientation for these residents’ social identification and integration had shifted: it then addressed the larger unit of the whole city, where the claim of “being an urbanite” was made by referring to the neighborhood’s administrative name, Iug-2. My most recent observations document not only how “married life” further disconnected these young men from the 2013 neighborhood realities, but also that a multitemporal perspective allows to (re-)contextualize various claims on Bishkek diachronically.

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