It’s been a great week at CES, we got the opportunity to meet a lot of other wonderful analysts and Central Asia watchers at the Registan conference this week and spend three days talking about Central Asia with similarly passionate people. So having spent the week surrounded by the news and the “big issues” in Central Asia, this round up is going to focus on the human interest stories and the quirky articles that have come from the region recently.
The Word in the Ruins, Christopher Shwartz, The Tuquay: Wonderful, wonderful post with a grounding in literature and history, looking at Central Asia and why none of the five republics get along. I love the author’s word choice, the use of literature as a context and it’s accessible for those who don’t know a lot about the region. Here’s a small sample:
A sense of ruination pervades the text, i.e., of a society in rapid decay and decline; coupled with it, though, is also a sense of re-building. Qunanbaiuli writes, “The words were born again; listener, renew yourself.” He is giving voice to a rather existentialist notion: living is about crafting a narrative out of the ink of flesh, decision and memory. It is also an Islamic sentiment, rooted from the Qur’án – that ultimate of poems, the Most Living Word – in the soil of Central Asia history.
In Turkmenistan, Dancing The (Days And) Nights Away, RFE/RL: Recently, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov informed Turkmenistan that the country was entering a “era of supreme happiness of the stable state” following his February re-election. As such, everyone is now required to dance and learn to dance in the lead up to Independence Day on October 27, where there will be a large national celebration where everyone will be putting these new dance skills to use in a mass dance and military parade.
The Quest for Home, Abdujalil Abdurasulov, OpenDemocracy Russia (via Jake Turk): Article looks at ethnic Uzbeks who were displaced by the violence in Kyrgyzstan in 2010, and how they feel that they don’t belong anywhere. This migration, in the wake of the conflict, was mostly invisible, the article states, because the refugees blended into the large number of Kyrgyzstanis seeking seasonal work in Russia. It used to be mostly men that migrated to Russia for seasonal work, but due to reported sustained harassment by the police in Kyrgyzstan, whole families now migrate, citing a general climate of fear and intimidation.
And finally, an 11-year-old Russian boy found a well-preserved wooly mammoth in the permafrost while walking his dog. The video’s very interesting, you can still see something on the skull, presumably preserved tissue.