Much scholarship of any region focuses on the perceived problems that hold back a population. Central Asia is no exception, as it is a region with political, economic, and environmental problems that seem to keep Central Asians from a "better" future. Alongside all the struggles of life, however, are relationships of meaning and wellness that contribute to a "life worth living." Recognizing the struggles of everyday life, contributors to this book explore how people navigate relationships to find meaning, how elders attempt to re-establish morality, and how development workers pursue new futures. Such futures centre around the role of family, friends, and meaningful employment in yielding contentment; and the influence of Islam, ethnicity, and hospitality on community.
The first regional collection to take well-being as a frame of analysis, the contributors show how visions, spaces, and cosmologies of well-being inform everyday life in Central Asia. This volume will appeal not only to those interested in Central Asia, but more broadly to anyone concerned with how taking well-being into account better captures the complex realities of life in any region.
This book was published as a special issue of Central Asian Survey.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Negotiating well-being in Central Asia Visions of well-being 2. Ordering ideals: accomplishing well-being in a Kyrgyz cooperative of elders 3. How to build a better future? Kyrgyzstani development workers and the ‘knowledge transfer’ strategy Spaces of well-being 4. ‘The state starts from the family’: peace and harmony in Tajikistan’s eastern Pamirs 5. Relations made over tea: reflections on a meaningful life in a Central Asian mountain village 6. Sewing to satisfaction: craft-based entrepreneurs in contemporary Kyrgyzstan Cosmologies of well-being 7. Anxiety, order and the other: well-being among ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks 8. Even honey may become bitter when there is too much of it: Islam and the struggle for a balanced existence in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan 9. Discovering a sense of well-being through the revival of Islam: profiles of Kazakh imams in Western Mongolia
David W. Montgomery is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh and Director of Program Development for CEDAR—Communities Engaging with Difference and Religion.