Sedentary Nomads? Pastoralism, Nomadism, Settlement and Tribalism among the Kyrgyz of High Asia

Date: 13 August 2013
Other languages: Русский язык |

Speaker: Yuri Boyanin
Date: 13 August 2013. 4.00pm
Venue: University of Central Asia, 138 Toktogul Street, Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic. Conference Room.

This lecture will describe the findings of research conducted on Kyrgyz settlements in the early and intermediate Soviet years. It will emphasize the 1916 rebellion and early Slavic colonisation of Kyrgyz lands as catalysts of social and political change and settlement, prior to the Stalinist economic programme of 1929-30. The lecturer will argue that dramatic change in many mountainous Kyrgyz lands was unlikely since no economic alternatives to pastoralism existed. In the steppe and the cities, traditional nomadic pastoral life was annihilated by the influx of industry, mining, urbanisation, cultural Russification and Sovietisation, and the settlement of numerous Slavs. Research focused on rural communities where none of these cultural levers existed shows evidence that the majority of mountainous Kyrgyz remained pastoral and semi-settled throughout the Soviet and Chinese communist period, although not nomadic. The lecturer aims to challenge existing historiography and offer new ways to look at Kyrgyz history and mountainous pastoral communities.

The lecture will be accompanied by an exhibition of Yuri's photography of Kyrgyz and other communities of the Tien Shan and Pamir mountains.

Please RSVP to with your name and affiliation. Please indicate if you require Russian translation.

Yuri Boyanin is a recent graduate of the Universities of Newcastle (UK) and Lund (Sweden). He is currently a PhD student of history at La Trobe University (Australia). He holds two Australian government scholarships. He is the recipient of this year’s Royal Geographical Society ‘Frederick Soddy’ Award, and the Explorers Club (New York) Exploration Fund Grant. Perhaps his fascination with Central Asia and the Kyrgyz comes from the fact that he considers himself a nomad; in recent years he has travelled to 54 countries and plans to increase this number to 91 by 2014.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.  

The presentation will be in English.  Russian translation will be provided upon prior request.

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