CASI Research Seminar:
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CASI Research Seminar: "Perception of Territoriality. Territory as a determinant for the comprehension of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan"

February 26, 2015

February 26, 2015

Anna-Barbara Heindl, CASI Visiting Scholar

Abstract: The research project investigates the determinants that constitute the Kyrgyz state as a political territorial entity perceived by young Kyrgyz citizens. The investigation draws upon the fact that the understanding, concept and determinants of the modern states in Central Asia, such as a fixed territory and nation was introduced and applied externally by the Soviet. Thus, the investigation aims at understanding to which extent these external determinants of a state have been internalized by the young generation of citizens or how they contrast with the traditional understanding of territoriality. The young generation of Kyrgyz citizens only experienced political life according to these external determinants: fixed territories and “de facto” boundaries, as imposed by the USSR and continued to be used by the regional leaders after its collapse (cf. HANDRAHAN 2001). The research pays particular attention to the question to which extent ethnicity or even ethnification is necessary for young people to reason the Kyrgyz state’s territoriality.

The research draws upon the interdisciplinary concepts of Border Studies, as well as the basic politico-geographic consideration of society, power and space. Concepts and theories of the (nation) state are derived from political sciences. The particular consideration of Border Studies is used as a proxy to understand the perception of territoriality that Kyrgyz citizens have. In narrative interviews featuring issues of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek boundary, interviewees from Osh and Bishkek are encouraged to give and structure their opinion on Kyrgyz territoriality. First, the investigation shall give insight to the understanding of the relation between state and territory in the first place. In a second step, with applying questions on the othering in the scope of Border Studies (cf. NEWMAN 2011), the research investigates whether the perception of the Kyrgyz state’s territoriality is a result of an ethnic othering (cf. BRUBAKER 2002, OOMMEN 1997), or rather an othering geared towards other political units, without a special consideration of ethnic relations.

The research results can contribute to further investigations of conflicts that take place within the Kyrgyz territory. Especially the questioned relation between ethnification and territoriality gives an insight to tendencies, whether ethnification is likely to be fundamental in power-space-relations or rather not.

Bio: Anna-Barbara Heindl currently pursues a Master of Science in Geography in Justus-Liebig-University of Giessen, Germany. Combining her interest in Geography and Political Science, she focuses on the theories and concepts that Political Geography provides and seeks interdisciplinary approaches to explain the importance of territoriality for the understatement of the Kyrgyz state. However, her interest is set in a broader environment of Geographic Conflict Research, she is working with a Bishkek based NGO working on conflict mitigation in rural areas of Kyrgyzstan. Working with the NGO benefits her research approach of ethnography; more concrete data she collects via as many narrative interviews as possible. While her 10-month stay in Kyrgyzstan pioneers for her Master Thesis, she aims at further pursuing her interest in research by doing a PhD as a follow-up.

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