Making Property in Kyrgyzstan: Bishkek’s Urban Periphery as Redistributive Space

in Central Asian Affairs
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This article explores urban land claims made by residents living in Bishkek’s informal settlements (novostroikas) located on the edge of the city. By examining the growth of the urban periphery alongside shifts in property rights enacted through privatization programs, Bishkek’s novostroikas are a grassroots attempt to correct previous inequitable distributions of private property. The political unrest of the Tulip Revolution in 2005 and the violent events of 2010 are taken as decisive moments to challenge this unequal distribution. The article examines how the residents of novostroikas enact collective and moral claims over land that demonstrate an understanding of private property to be contextual, overlapping, and heterogeneous, rather than singular and predetermined.




Nicholas Blomley, “Performing Property: Making the World,” Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, 26, no. 1 (2013): 23–48.


 See Craig Hatcher, “Globalising Homeownership: Housing Privatisation Schemes and the Private Rental Sector in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan,” International Development Planning Review, 37, no. 4 (2015): 467–486.


Crawford Brough MacPherson, Property, Mainstream and Critical Positions (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1978).


Nicholas Blomley, “Making Space for Property,” Annals of the Association of American ­Geographers, 104, no. 6 (2014): 1291–1306.


Nicholas Blomley, “Performing Property: Making the World,” Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, 26, no. 1 (2013): 23–48.


Blomley, “Performing Property,” 23–48.


Blomley, “Performing Property,” 23–48.


Chauncy Harris, “Urbanization and Population Growth in the Soviet Union,” Geographical Review, 61, no. 1 (1971): 102–124.


Philipp Schröder, ““Urbanizing” Bishkek: Interrelations of Boundaries, Migration, Group Size, and Opportunity Structure,” Central Asian Survey, 29, no. 4 (2010): 453–467.


Dina Sharipova, “Who Gets What, When and How? Housing and Informal Institutions in the Soviet Union and Post Soviet Kazakhstan,” Central Asian Affairs, 2, no. 2 (2015): 140–167.


Zvi Lerman and David Sedik, “Agricultural Recovery and Individual Land Tenure: Lessons from Central Asia,” Policy Studies on Rural Transition, no. 3 (Budapest: fao Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia, 2009).


Mitchell, “Rule of Experts,” 56.


Irina Kostyukova, “The Towns of Kyrgyzstan Change Their Faces: Rural-Urban Migrants in Bishkek,” Central Asian Survey, 13, no. 3 (1994): 425–434.


Philipp Schröder, “Urban Spaces and Lifestyles in Central Asia and Beyond: An Introduction,” Central Asian Survey, 35, no. 2 (2016): 145–156.


Reeves, “The Time of the Border,” 205.


Carol Rose, “Possession as the Origin of Property,” The University of Chicago Law Review, 73 (1985): 73–88.


Madeleine Reeves, “The Latest Revolution,” London Review of Books, 32, no. 9 (2010): 27–28.


Robin Forestier-Walker, “Kyrgyzstan’s Hollow Revolution,” Aljazeera, May 5, 2010. Accessed January 17, 2017.


 See also, Elisa Isabaeva, “Migration into the ‘Illegality’ and Coping with Difficulties in a Squatter Settlement in Bishkek,” Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, no. 138 (2014): 1–16.


Christian Lund, “Rule and Rupture: State Formation through the Production of Property and Citizenship,” Development and Change, 47, no. 6 (2016): 1199–1288.


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