Although I’m often amazed at how great telecommunications work in this country, there are still stretches of time when internet jok — there’s no internet. In anticipation of those long hours, days, weekends, I like to load up on reading material while at work or cafes. Here’s a compilation of some of the things that made me look twice and think a while, mostly about Kyrgyzstan, international development, foreign policy, feminism, and language. Enjoy.
Animals, Kinship, and the State: Kyrgyz Chabans Rebuilding Herds and Reorienting Belonging after the Soviet Collapse:“In this article, based on fieldwork in the Song Köl area of Naryn Province, we examine these transformations of pastoral livelihoods, as well as the challenges that have emerged in this environment of rapidly changing belonging in relation to livelihoods, kinship, and the state.” A fellow volunteer was living in the village this article is about; while I enjoyed it for that reason, I also found it interesting how the Soviets capitalized on pre-existing social networks, which then faltered after the Soviet Union collapse.
Beauty and the east: I’m guilty of photographing Soviet ruins/of making comments about a place looking “Soviet chic” to describe the certain way Soviet-era apartment buildings, restaurants, factories, everything look some 20-years out of independence. This article put that drive – to capture those ruins – in context. “Freud was fond of drawing a parallel between the ruin and the unconscious: the past remains with us, even if it is unseen. The exposure of the ruin can be seen as a way of coming to terms with our past and its contemporary consequences.
A professional interpreter’s job isn’t as simple as you think: The young man who translated loooooong stretches of text from English to Russian at the reception in honor of Carrie Hessler-Radelet’s visit to Kyrgyzstan was amazing – I barely took in the stories he was translating because I was so shocked with how he managed to move between language. “The big concern: It’s one thing to understand the language, but it’s another thing to understand the ideas that speakers try to convey.”
“A’ghailleann”: On Language-Learning and the Decolonisation of the Mind: “And, as ever, it matters because the personal is political. It matters because Hindi, like Gaelic, is a colonised space. It is a language complete in itself, with its own history, literature, poetry and tradition. But more than sixty-five years after Indian independence, it has been surrounded and absorbed by English, so among the Indian middle classes it is no longer a prestige language. It is the vernacular, the language one speaks at home; one does not use it to write to the tax office, nor take one’s degree.” The relevance of this as an English teacher in a developing country, and a developing country that was colonized by Russians means this article hit me twice.
Here Come the Stereotypes: Central Asians Implicated in Istanbul Attack: “In the coming weeks, as Turkish officials piece together the details of the attack, a hopefully clearer picture will emerge. Meanwhile, Western media unfamiliar with Central Asia will likely blunder its way through the 24/7 media cycle with scant details repeated ad nauseum alongside unsubstantiated stereotypes about Central Asia as a hotbed of jihad.” Pray for Istanbul, pray for peace.