Central Asia is a region singularly marked by attempts to transform social life by transforming place. Drawing together established scholars and a new generation of historians, geographers and anthropologists, this volume brings empirical specificity and theoretical depth to debates about the politics of place-making in this diverse region, making an important contribution to Central Asian studies and a distinctive regional comparison to the ‘spatial turn’ in social analysis.
Case studies draw on archival research and oral history to explore the workings—and unintended consequences—of policies aimed at sedentarizing, collectivizing and resettling populations as a means to fix and territorialize space. The book also examines ethnographic studies attuned to the role of movement in sustaining social life, from Soviet-era trade networks that linked rural Central Asia and the Russian metropolis, to pilgrimage routes through which ‘kazakhness’ is articulated, to the contemporary moralization of migration abroad in search of work.
Rather than analysing ‘flows’ as abstract processes, the book enquires about effortful activity, material infrastructures, political relations and social habits through which people, ideas, knowledge, skills and material objects move or are prevented from moving. As such, it offers new insights into the complex intersections of movement, power and place in this important region over the last two centuries.
This book was originally published as a special issue of Central Asian Survey.