Thinking through Water: Interactions at Dams, Pilgrimage Sites and Transhumant Pastures in Kyrgyzstan

Date: 28 April 2011
Location: UCA Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic
Other languages: Русский язык |

Speaker: Jeanne Féaux de la Croix
Date: 28 April 2011, 4 PM
Venue: University of Central Asia (Conference Room),
138 Toktogul Street, Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic

(The views presented in this lecture are those of the presenter and not necessarily those of the University of Central Asia or any of its staff)

In Central Asia, water is often discussed as a scarce resource and important factor in regional politics. This lecture, based on anthropological fieldwork conducted in the Toktogul region of the Kyrgyz Republic between 2006 and 2008, analyses how people there understand and interact with water, raising questions and providing insight into water metaphors used in current political and social science descriptions of the world. The research compared three places with running water: mountain pastures (jailoos), hydroelectric dams that control the flow of the Naryn River, and sacred sites (mazars). All three are held in high esteem for creating different kinds of well-being, health or wealth. How do people relate to the large reservoir that flooded their former homes in the 1970s? What do Toktogul residents think of the building and regulation of the Toktogul and Kambar-Ata dams, which led to tensions between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan? How can we make sense of the fact that people may talk about water as a political and economic resource, and as a force of nature or healing essence? This lecture will explore some of these questions and highlight how attention to everyday uses and ideas about water can help build understanding about what the politics of water might mean in practice.

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

Jeanne Féaux de la Croix has worked as an anthropologist in Central Asia since 2005. She completed her PhD in 2010 at the University of St. Andrews on Moral Geographies in Kyrgyzstan: How Pastures, Dams and Holy Sites Matter in Striving for a Good Life. She is currently involved in several projects, including one with Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) which explores the impact of age in knowledge-making and development projects in Kyrgyzstan; another with a SOROS research and teaching programme on 'Sovietness in Everyday Life; ' and an initiative to foster good working relations and new forms of collaboration between scholars and media professionals in Central Asia.

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


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