Categories of Analysis and Categories of Practice since the Tajik Civil War by Sophie Roche
Speaker: Sophie Roche
Date: 6 September 2012, 4 pm
Venue: University of Central Asia, 138 Toktogul Street, Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, Conference Room.
The civil war in Tajikistan in the 1990s was a dynamic period that has transformed social practices and has created new collectivities. This lecture will re-examine some of the categories of analysis used to describe the civil war, and relate them to ethnographic research. The research asserts that the ethnographic present remains shaped by the categories of practice developed in reaction to the war, distinct from the categories of analysis. While a study of the causes for the conflict today clashes with post-war interests of the current regime to maintain peace and power, the ethnographic present allows us to understand which strategies were used in the war and whether they had a lasting impact. One example is regionalism: Many ordinary people today argue that regional origin has never been a real problem and hence they create peaceful continuities that take the civil war as an ‘interruptive moment.’ This assumption contradicts the politics of the current regime which continues to eliminate former regional opposition groups through military interventions. This is possible because the government has merged the category of opposition with what it calls ‘Islamic terrorism’ (instead of regionalism). This is an extreme case of how categories of analysis that disregard categories of practice can become a tool to politics. In contrast to the negation of regional animosity, ethnic belonging became a central marker of identification both during and following the civil war, a category of practice with far-reaching consequences. Following Moore (2008) and others who demand to review categories of analysis and link them to the actors, this lecture will link the categories of analysis of the civil war to the strategies and lives of ordinary people.
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Sophie Roche is a Research Fellow at the Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin, Germany. She received her PhD in social anthropology from the Martin-Luther University in Halle, resulting in a book entitled “Domesticating youth. The dynamics of youth bulge in Tajikistan” (Berghahn, forthcoming). Based on field work in Tajikistan’s rural areas, her current project on jihad and shahid in Tajikistan has contextualized the political discussions through ethnographic material. Her main research interest is the transformative capacity of conflicts with regard to biographies and demographic behaviour. She is the author of several publications on conflicts in Central Asia.
The presentation will be conducted in English. Russian translation provided upon prior request.