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Avoidance and Appropriation in Bishkek: Dealing with Time, Space and Urbanity in Kyrgyzstan's Capital


Schröder, Philipp (2016). Avoidance and Appropriation in Bishkek: Dealing with Time, Space and Urbanity in Kyrgyzstan's Capital. Central Asian Survey, 35(2):218-236.

Abstract

Much has changed since Frunze was renamed Bishkek in 1991 and became the capital of independent Kyrgyzstan. Though it was once considered to be among the ‘greenest’ and most ‘orderly’ cities of the Soviet Union, today many of its long-term residents complain about the new settlements (novostroiki) that have emerged during the last two decades. To Bishkek's urbanites, the recent arrival of migrants is not associated with an escape from rural poverty and a rightful struggle for civic rights, but indicates a massive cultural and aesthetic degradation of familiar urban life. In this article, beyond contesting narratives of cosmopolitan nostalgia vs. legitimate belonging, I investigate how urban practitioners in fact produce and deal with different spaces in the city. My ethnographic accounts not only identify social avoidance as an essential pulse of Bishkek's current rhythm, but also illustrate that after a period of post-rural socialization previously stigmatized migrants may manage to smoothly blend into urban spatial flows and lifestyles.

Abstract

Much has changed since Frunze was renamed Bishkek in 1991 and became the capital of independent Kyrgyzstan. Though it was once considered to be among the ‘greenest’ and most ‘orderly’ cities of the Soviet Union, today many of its long-term residents complain about the new settlements (novostroiki) that have emerged during the last two decades. To Bishkek's urbanites, the recent arrival of migrants is not associated with an escape from rural poverty and a rightful struggle for civic rights, but indicates a massive cultural and aesthetic degradation of familiar urban life. In this article, beyond contesting narratives of cosmopolitan nostalgia vs. legitimate belonging, I investigate how urban practitioners in fact produce and deal with different spaces in the city. My ethnographic accounts not only identify social avoidance as an essential pulse of Bishkek's current rhythm, but also illustrate that after a period of post-rural socialization previously stigmatized migrants may manage to smoothly blend into urban spatial flows and lifestyles.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:790 Sports, games & entertainment
390 Customs, etiquette & folklore
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:08 Feb 2017 17:29
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 23:24
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0263-4937
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/02634937.2016.1140375

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