Capturing a unique historical moment, this book examines the changes in urban life since the collapse of the Soviet Union from an ethnographic perspective, thus addressing significant gaps in the literature on cities, Central Asia and post-socialism.
It encompasses Tashkent, Almaty, Astana and Ulan-Ude: four cities with quite different responses to the fall of the Soviet Union. Each chapter takes a theme of central significance across this huge geographical terrain, addresses it through one city and contextualizes it by reference to the other sites in this volume. The structure of the book moves from nostalgia and memories of the Soviet past to examine how current changes are being experienced and imagined through the shifting materialities, temporalities and political economies of urban life. Privatization is giving rise to new social geographies, while ethnic and religious sensibilities are creating emergent networks of sacred sites. But, however much ideologies are changing, cities also provide a constant lived mnemonic of lost configurations of ideology and practice, acting as signposts to bankrupted futures. Urban Life in Post-Soviet Asia provides a detailed account of the changing nature of urban life in post-Soviet Asia, clearly elucidating the centrality of these urban transformations to citizens’ understandings of their own socio-economic condition.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction Catherine Alexander and Victor Buchli 2. Astana: Materiality and the City Victor Buchli 3. Almaty: Rethinking the Public Sector Catherine Alexander 4. Tashkent: Three Capitals, Three Worlds Marfua Tokhtakhodzhaeva 5. City of Migrants: Contemporary Ulan-Ude in the Context of Russian Migration Galina Manzanova 6. The Creation and Revitalisation of Ethnic Sacred Sites in Ulan-Ude since the 1990s A. Hurelbaatar 7. The Homeless of Ulan-Ude Irina Baldaeva 8. New Subjects and Situated Interdependence: After Privatisation in Ulan-Ude Caroline Humphrey
Catherine Alexander is Reader in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She has carried out fieldwork in Turkey, Britain and Kazakhstan, and has published on domestic space and cities. Most of her research has been engaged with changing relationships between state, society and market including privatisation, property relations and welfare and the third sector.
Victor Buchli is Reader in Material Culture in the Department of Anthropology, University College London. His research interests focus on the material culture of socialism and post-socialism, modernist architecture and urbanism in Russia and Kazakhstan, the archaeology of the recent past, and theoretical understandings of material culture and materiality.
Caroline Humphrey is Professor of Collaborative Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. She has worked extensively in Russia, Mongolia, and North-West China, and also more briefly in Nepal and India. She has published on economic change, ritual and religion, and her current interests concern socialist/post-socialist urban cultures in China and Russia.