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Under Solomon’s Throne

Uzbek Visions of Renewal in Osh

Morgan Y. Liu

Publication Year: 2012

Morgan Y. Liu provides a rare ground-level analysis of post-Soviet Central Asia’s social and political paradoxes by focusing on an urban ethnic community: the Uzbeks in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, who have maintained visions of societal renewal throughout economic upheaval, political discrimination, and massive violence. This study examines the culturally specific ways that Osh Uzbeks are making sense of their post-Soviet dilemmas. These practices reveal deep connections with Soviet and Islamic sensibilities and with everyday acts of dwelling in urban neighborhoods. Osh Uzbeks engage the spaces of their city to shape their orientations relative to the wider world, postsocialist transformations, Islamic piety, moral personhood, and effective leadership.

Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press

Series: Central Eurasia in Context

Title Page

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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

Notes on Fieldwork

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pp. xi-xv

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pp. 1-19

The tale of one city can tell a story about a society, a region, and a historical moment. The story told here is about how an urban community responded to a political dilemma for two decades and how the community’s response offers broader insight on Central Asia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since then, ethnic Uzbeks in the city of Osh have lived as citizens of independent...

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1. Bazaar and Mediation

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pp. 20-42

Osh may fail to stand out as a beautiful city in the eyes of the average Western tourist. Beyond the imposing Solomon Mountain (fig. 2) at its center, the cityscape offers few striking elements. Yet the city is fascinating for the dense social worlds that it assembles, juxtaposes, and tucks away within its urban...

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2. Border and Post-Soviet Predicament

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pp. 43-73

Being Uzbek in post-Soviet Osh means living between contradictions. The lives of Osh Uzbeks are caught between overlapping pairs of oppositions that define their post-Soviet predicament. They are doubly excluded by the two nation-states with which they are most connected, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan...

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3. Divided City and Relating to the State

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pp. 74-104

Osh appears to tell a tale of two cities. It is often seen as a city divided into two distinct halves: an ancient Central Asian core (mahalla neighborhoods, hand-built houses, narrow streets, bazaars) and a modern Soviet city (boulevards, shops, government buildings, institutions, parks, Lenin statues). Indeed,...

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4. Neighborhood and Making Proper Persons

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pp. 105-124

A neighborhood is more than a place to live. Inhabited places are always saturated with a wide range of human concern, whether through narrative about them or engagement in everyday acts of dwelling in them (Casey 1997). Places gather material things, experiences, thoughts, dispositions, habits, concerns, and their histories into particular local configurations that can become...

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5. House and Dwelling in the World

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pp. 125-147

The mahalla is a potent idiom of virtuous character and moral community. The idiom allows Osh Uzbeks to ponder and attempt to practice the kind of collective life that they believe is key to renewing society for a better future. Understanding this view allows us to appreciate why so many Osh Uzbeks...

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6. Republic and Virtuous Leadership

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pp. 148-184

At a Russian restaurant in Osh one summer day in 1999, a young Uzbek man eloquently summarized for me why the republic of Uzbekistan was so much on the minds of Uzbeks in Osh at the time. Nurolim stood out as the most cosmopolitan individual of all my friends in the city. He spoke fluent, idiomatic...

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Conclusion: Central Asian Visions of Societal Renewal

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pp. 185-200

Osh Uzbeks have responded in a particular way to their political predicament since Kyrgyzstan’s independence in 1991. They make sense of their dilemmas and conceive of solutions to them by “thinking with” their city through idioms that are rooted in the actual spaces of Osh and its surroundings...


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pp. 201-242


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pp. 243-267


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pp. 209-280

E-ISBN-13: 9780822977926
E-ISBN-10: 0822977923
Print-ISBN-13: 9780822961772
Print-ISBN-10: 0822961776

Page Count: 328
Illustrations: 18 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Central Eurasia in Context
Series Editor Byline: Douglas Northrop, Editor See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 805445201
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Under Solomon’s Throne

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Uzbeks -- Kyrgyzstan -- Osh -- Social conditions.
  • Uzbeks -- Kyrgyzstan -- Osh -- Economic conditions.
  • Uzbeks -- Kyrgyzstan -- Osh -- Government relations.
  • Post-communism -- Kyrgyzstan -- Osh.
  • Nativistic movements -- Kyrgyzstan -- Osh.
  • Osh (Kyrgyzstan) -- Ethnic relations.
  • Osh (Kyrgyzstan) -- Politics and government.
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