Under Solomon’s Throne
Uzbek Visions of Renewal in Osh
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press
Series: Central Eurasia in Context
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Notes on Fieldwork
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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...
1. Bazaar and Mediation
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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...
2. Border and Post-Soviet Predicament
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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...
3. Divided City and Relating to the State
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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,...
4. Neighborhood and Making Proper Persons
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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...
5. House and Dwelling in the World
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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...
6. Republic and Virtuous Leadership
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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...
Conclusion: Central Asian Visions of Societal Renewal
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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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Page Count: 328
Illustrations: 18 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2012
Series Title: Central Eurasia in Context