Morgan Y. Liu

Urban Materiality and its Stakes in Southern Kyrgyzstan

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Kyrgyzstan; Central Asia; Ethnic Conflicts; Urban Changes.

Tremendous urban transformations in two Central Asian cities since the early 20th century have resulted in remaking the subjectivity and worldview of its inhabitants. This article explores the connections between urban materiality and human subjectivity, and argues that, while their relationship is complex and mediated by specific socio-historical processes, the former can play a consequential role in producing the latter. The study examines ethnic Uzbeks in the cities of Osh and Jalalabat, located today in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan. The analysis traces three historical moments - the Soviet period, the 1990s, and the first decade of the 2000s - when shifts in urban material conditions were understood to carry great stakes in the shaping of the personhood of city dwellers. This insight may have a bearing on the possible future resolution of the serious inter-ethnic conflict between Kyrgyzs and Uzbeks in those cities, which erupted in 1990 and 2010.

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