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Title: Central Asian civil society : dynamics of associational life in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan
Author: Alexandrov, Timur
ISNI:       0000 0004 7652 5639
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis analyses local forms of civil society practised in contemporary Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and provides a common thread on which to base a Central Asian understanding of civil society. I look to find out factors and constituents, which on the surface might be different from a classical liberal concept of civil society. The thesis applies a wider anthropological framework, which sees civil society as a broad network of social relationships, including traditional forms of associational life that can be relatively independent of the state. The study draws upon a multi-locale ethnography in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan including in-depth and focus group interviews, participant observations, case studies, and archival research. I have investigated associations whose activities are concerned with reciprocal relations within society based on community solidarity, self-help, and mutual trust. These include professional associations, trade unions, ethno-cultural associations, religious organisations, courtyard clubs, the traditional Uzbek neighbourhood institution of mahalla, and informal practices of gap and khashar. While arguing that the meaning of civil society depends on context, the study has found that traditional elements of the preserved social fabric in Central Asian societies are reflected in today's networks of individuals. The thesis has generated knowledge on how local forms of associational life define the civil sphere by shaping social organisation, solidarity and mobilisation. Through empirical understanding of the public space, formal and informal networks that bond people together, we can locate wider ethnographic differences between not only the original and Central Asian concepts of civil society but also between two local cultures of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Supervisor: Lane, David Sponsor: Cambridge Commonwealth ; European and International Trust ; Open Society Foundations
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: civil society ; central asia ; kazakhstan ; uzbekistan ; post-soviet ; associational life ; ethnography ; public associations ; professional associations ; trade unions ; ethno-cultural ; religious organisations ; courtyard clubs ; mahalla ; conversational groups