Understanding the Violence in Tajikistan

by Sarah Kendzior on 7/26/2012 · 1 comment

[NOTE: This is cross-posted from my website, www.sarahkendzior.com, at Nathan’s request.  The original entry is here.]

A lot of people have been asking me about the outbreak of violence in Tajikistan so I decided to put together a list of sources and coverage.

The best writer on Tajikistan, in my view, is Christian Bleuer, a Central Asia expert who is, unlike most academics, a thoughtful and engaging writer. Here is his blog. Be sure to check out his most recent post, What’s going on in the mountains of Tajikistan?

Christian also runs Tajikistan Research Resources, which is an online portal for scholars, researchers, students, journalists, policy-makers, NGO/humanitarian workers, travelers, and others who want to better understand Tajikistan.

Tajikistan has been studied much less than other Central Asian countries, but has been a key research site for a younger generation of Central Asia scholars. Besides Christian, I recommend Brent Hierman (political science), Christopher Whitsel (sociology), Zohra Ismail-Beben (anthropology) and Daniel Beben (history) as sources on Tajikistan. Zohra and Daniel did research in Gorno-Badakhshan, the province where the violence is taking place.

News coverage on the conflict has been better than expected given the difficulty of gathering information in the region. Communications have been cut in Gorno-Badakhshan, a mountainous region which is notoriously difficult to access. Here are a few highlights:

Eurasianet: Tajikistan: Will Ceasefire End Deadly Conflict in Gorno-Badakhshan?

Economist: Violence in Tajikistan: The Strongman Cometh

Radio Free Europe: Explainer: Violence In Tajikistan’s Badakhshan Province A Legacy Of The Civil War

Eurasianet: Tajikistan Blocks YouTube, Steps Up Info Restrictions After Clashes

On YouTube, PamirTV has been uploading video of clashes and television news reports.

I’ll try to update this post as more information comes in.

[UPDATED 7/29/12]

Update: Anthropologist Zohra Ismail-Beben has written a great article giving context to the conflict on Registan.

Update: Some of the best reporting on the violence has been in Tajik, a language not served by Google translate and other online translation systems. The website eTajikistan is doing an important service by providing English translations of these articles.

Update: Global Voices Online describes how the conflict is affecting the Tajik and Pamiri diaspora and internet communities as well as the government’s attempts to cut communications to the region. (I’ve heard that telecommunications have since been partially restored, although Tajik security officials are said to be confiscating photos and video at the airport.)

Update: You can always count on Russia’s Central Asia analysts for a bizarre and conspiratorial take on current events, and this article from Regnum — arguing that the conflict in Gorno-Badakhshan will cause Afghan militants to arm Uzbeks against Kyrgyzstan — is no exception. As usual, the road to hyperbole leads through the Ferghana Valley.

Update: The Facebook group Peace in Khorog has over 1000 members. Updates on the conflict in Tajik, Russian and English.

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This post was written by...

– author of 21 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Sarah Kendzior is an anthropologist who studies politics and the internet in the former Soviet Union. She has a PhD in cultural anthropology from Washington University in Saint Louis and an MA in Central Eurasian Studies from Indiana University. Her research has been published in many academic journals and media outlets, including American Ethnologist, Central Asian Survey, Demokratizatsiya and the Atlantic. She is currently an instructor at Washington University, where she teaches a course called "The Internet, Politics, and Society." Follow her on Twitter.

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{ 1 comment }

Emma Sabzalieva July 27, 2012 at 4:23 am

I’ve posted a press release on my blog today which has other links to news about what is happening.

Please do everything you can to raise awareness.

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