Archive of Sarah Kendzior

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.

Sarah has written 21 articles at Registan.

Why is Twitter censoring the Islamic Jihad Union?

by Sarah Kendzior

Today on Twitter I was followed by a new account called SodiqlarInfo. This was the Twitter account for the Islamic Jihad Union, a terrorist group originally based out of Uzbekistan who operate the website Sodiqlar. (In Uzbek, sodiq means one who is faithful or devout; -lar is plural.) I thought this was interesting, so I […]

4 comments Read the full article →

Manic Pixie Dream Dissidents

by Sarah Kendzior
Thumbnail image for Manic Pixie Dream Dissidents

Imagine this: The three men sit in court, awaiting their verdict. The youngest, a experienced dissident described by the media as a “sultry sex symbol” with “Angelina Jolie lips”, glances at his colleague, an activist praised by the Associated Press for his “pre-Raphaelite looks”.  Between them sits a third man, whose lack of glamour has […]

9 comments Read the full article →

Why Dictator’s Daughters Still Can’t Have It All

by Sarah Kendzior
Thumbnail image for Why Dictator’s Daughters Still Can’t Have It All

It’s July in Uzbekistan, and Gulnara Karimova’s camera crew is trampling the city of Bukhara. There’s a man in black running on the roof of the Poi Kaylan mosque, there’s a camera crane staring down a minaret, and in the center of it all is Gulnara, the dictator’s daughter, in a black and white dress, […]

8 comments Read the full article →

Understanding the Violence in Tajikistan

by Sarah Kendzior

[NOTE: This is cross-posted from my website,, 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 […]

1 comment Read the full article →

What Happened in Andijon?

by Sarah Kendzior
Thumbnail image for What Happened in Andijon?

On July 23, the website reported that 2000 people had taken to the streets in Andijon, Uzbekistan – the site of a massive May 2005 protest in which the Uzbek government shot to death over 700 people.  Uznews claimed that this was the second demonstration in two weeks, and that Andijon authorities  were working […]

Read the full article →

Lost in Google’s Translation

by Sarah Kendzior
Thumbnail image for Lost in Google’s Translation

Last week Google Translate announced that it now has over 200 million monthly users. As Alexis Madrigal noted in the Atlantic, this means that Google is now translating as much in a day as a human being would in a year – an amount of text equivalent to a million books. Google Translate is far […]

6 comments Read the full article →

Why Did Uzbekistan Ban Wikipedia?

by Sarah Kendzior
Thumbnail image for Why Did Uzbekistan Ban Wikipedia?

Uzbekistan’s ban on Wikipedia is censorship as performance art. The ban, enacted late last month, blocks all articles written in Uzbek while leaving articles in other languages accessible. Unlike earlier acts of online censorship, the ban on Uzbek Wikipedia articles does not prevent citizens from accessing political information. On the contrary, it blocks a prime […]

8 comments Read the full article →

How Twitter’s New Policy Rewards Elite Activism

by Sarah Kendzior

On Thursday, Twitter announced that it would begin to selectively block tweets on a country by country basis. The decision prompted an immediate outcry from free speech advocates as well as a more measured response from scholars of social media, several of whom praised Twitter’s relative transparency while noting that it has no choice but […]

13 comments Read the full article →

The Reverse Orientalism of the Arab Spring

by Sarah Kendzior

In 1978, Edward Said defined orientalism as “a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient.” The Muslim world, he argued, is rarely seen as significant and complex in its own right, but derives its significance from its relationship with the West: a comparative framework that guarantees a delusory bias. The Orient […]

13 comments Read the full article →

Central Asia: An Exception to the “Cute Cats” Theory of Internet Revolution

by Sarah Kendzior

Last month Ethan Zuckerman, a senior researcher at the Berkman Center of Internet and Society, gave a lecture on how his “cute cats” theory of the internet applies to the Arab Spring. For those of you unfamiliar with the theory, Cory Doctorow sums it up in an rapturous review of the talk in the Guardian: […]

41 comments Read the full article →