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Tonio Weicker

It is well known that labor migrants from different countries all over the Eurasian Union are the backbone of crucial economy sectors in the Russian Federation as, inter alia, construction, agriculture or trade. This article deals with another less mentioned but similarly significant labor market, which substantially changed its assemblage during the last couple of years, namely commercial urban transport services. In the last two decades, the marshrutka sector underwent major reforms and formalization processes that, on the one hand, brought operators back into the tax net and ensured a certain extension of control to the local transportation departments but, on the other hand, worsened the labor conditions of the transportation workers. Drawing from the empirical evidence of my fieldwork in southern Russia, I describe currently problematized mobility assemblages and embed the actor’s articulations in broader conflicts within the marshrutka business and transportation regulation policy. I further analyze how labor migrants have been forced to accept unfavorable working conditions in the enterprises as a direct result of politically triggered reforms in the marshrutka business. The paper provides insights into the social arena of the marshrutka, which serves as a societal encounter of urban conflicts and transformation mirroring (un-)intended effects of the local transportation reformation attempts.

Cara Kerven

In Turkmenistan, Islamic charitable alms (sadaka) are a central part of daily life in the desert villages surrounding Gökdepe town, about five hours drive from the capital, Aşgabat. Adults give sadaka for reasons of religious merit, in order to pay respects to deceased family members and prior to major life-cycle events such as weddings. This article links Turkmen sadaka to other life-cycle ceremonies noted in the surrounding Central Asian countries. Life-cycle ceremonies have been theorised in two broadly different ways, as either concerned with prestige and status or as ethical projects. I bring these two approaches into conversation through the notion of social reproduction. Using long-term ethnographic research, I argue that Turkmen sadaka reveals how the economics of daily life and social reproduction are directly dependent on divine gifts. It is an ethical project for those participating that, at the same time, has recognised social consequences in terms of status and prestige.

Giulia Cabras

In the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (People’s Republic of China), history is taught according to Chinese nationalistic guidelines and the history of ethnic groups is built around their relationships with the Han majority. In this context of historical hegemony, the paper examines a series of books for Uyghur children on famous historical characters in order to understand how young generations’ ethnic consciousness can be shaped. The analysis identifies some trends of the Uyghur ethnic discourse transmitted to children (connections with the history of Central Asia and the Middle East, the focus on elements of identification such as Islam and muqams), as well as the presence of a Chinese paradigm that supports progress, secular education, and the standardization of folklore. Furthermore, the article aims to identify how much leeway is given to the development of a counter-discourse, particularly in the transmission of historical and cultural heritage to the younger generations.

Garnik Asatrian

The article is an attempt to interpret the toponym Bardeskan/Bardaskan, which is the name of a city and a šahrestān (“county”) located in the south of the Khorasan-e Razavi province in Iran, on the northern edge of the Great Salt desert (Kavīr-e namak). Parallelly, the author discusses also the origin of a number of other place-names from the same area.

David Leupold

More than a century years ago Talât Pasha declared famously that in the Eastern Provinces “The Armenian question does not exist anymore”. Today, far from being resolved, the former binary coding (Armenian/Turkish) is even further complicated by a third element— the ongoing Kurdish question (doza Kurdistanê). While most research and journalistic works frame the Armenian issue and the Kurdish issue as two separate events that merely coincide(d) in the same geographical space, this work explores their interdependence and the historical trajectories of two peoples fatally “tied together” across a spatio-temporal scale.

In my paper I identify two opposing lines of continuity through which both peoples are tied together: friendly and fatal ties. With regard to the first (friendly ties), I turn to the SSR Armenia and her role in fostering Kurdish culture and advancing Kurdish nationalism. Hereby, I argue that a marginalized community of Kurmanji-speakers—the Yezidis, previously othered as “devil-worshippers” (şeytanperest)— emerged as the vanguard in forging a novel, secularized Kurdish national identity. With regard to the latter (fatal ties), I link the irrevocable erasure of Ottoman Armenians to the emergence of an imagined “Northern Kurdistan” stretching over large parts of historic Armenia. This, finally, raises the question of Kurdish complicity in the Armenian Genocide—as state-mobilized regiments, tribal members and ordinary residents—in a geography where, as Recep Maraşlı put it, the descendants “are the children of both perpetrators and victims alike”.

Thomas Jügel

This article discusses the publications of two documentation projects of the Gorani varieties of Gawraǰū and Zarda. It offers a number of alternative interpretations, corrections and additions to the grammatical description of two understudied and highly endangered West Iranic varieties, which are under strong influence of neighbouring Kurdish dialects.

David B. Buyaner

The paper deals with the etymology of NP pōlād “steel” suggested by Ernst Herzfeld more than seventy years ago, but overlooked both by his contemporaries and by the following generations of scholars. Some slight emendations are proposed to Herzfeld’s reconstruction of the stages of borrowing from Middle Indian into Old Persian, without, however, diminishing his role as trailblazer.