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 22 articles at Registan.


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: [...]

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Rumors, Lies and the Uzbek Internet: More on a Facebook Suicide

by Sarah Kendzior

If the story of Gulsumoy Abdujalilova is not real, who benefits?  Ever since Uzmetronom released a report claiming that Abdujalilova  – the Uzbek emigre who allegedly committed suicide after being interrogated by the Uzbek police — does not exist, observers have speculated on who created her, and why. One Eurasianet reporter echoes Uzmetronom’s claim that [...]

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Facebook and the Surveillance State: The Death of Gulsumoy Abdujalilova

by Sarah Kendzior

I am looking at the Facebook page of Gulsumoy Abdujalilova. Gulsumoy writes about how she misses her mother, how she has the flu, how happy she is that Eid has arrived. She is from Andijon, Uzbekistan, but now she lives in Munich, Germany. She writes, “Qayerda bo’lsam ham Qalbim sendadur Vatanim” – “Wherever I am, [...]

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Happy Birthday, Uzbekistan

by Sarah Kendzior

Uzbekistan and I share a birthday. On September 1, 1991, I turned thirteen years old, while on the other side of the world, the Republic of Uzbekistan was born. I was oblivious to this development at the time, having derived all knowledge of post-Soviet foreign policy from the Scorpions’ “Wind of Change” video. My mother [...]

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Digital Memory and a Massacre

by Sarah Kendzior

On Sunday I lay in bed and watched an Uzbek man be burned alive. The video starts with a fire in the center of a crowd. At first it is not even clear that the fire is a human being. As the Uzbek man thrashes and screams, the crowd laughs and applauds, shouting insults in [...]

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Crisis in Kyrgyzstan: How You Can Help

by Sarah Kendzior

There are a number of organizations which are accepting monetary and material donations to aid the hundreds of thousands of Uzbeks affected by the violence in southern Kyrgyzstan. I have listed several of them below, and I hope Registan readers will add their own information in the comments section or by contacting the editor of [...]

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Why Didn’t We See It Coming?

by Sarah Kendzior

It has been a week since riots broke out in southern Kyrgyzstan, and, contrary to the claims of the New York Times, scholars of the region are no closer to achieving consensus on the cause of the violence than before. This is a good thing. It is irresponsible to draw definitive conclusions as to the [...]

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Central Asia: Celebutards Wanted

by Sarah Kendzior

For years, I have watched activists vainly attempt to focus a spotlight on the problems of Central Asia, only to be thwarted by the media’s steadfast refusal to, as CNN put it, “learn the stans”. Corruption, poverty, torture, mass violence — what does it take for Central Asia to merit real coverage, the kind which [...]

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The Shadow of Andijon

by Sarah Kendzior

In May 2005, military forces dispatched by the Uzbek government shot and killed hundreds of people in Andijon, Uzbekistan, many of whom were protesting the economic deterioration and repressive social conditions of the region. Within weeks, a joke began to circulate around Uzbek internet forums. It went something like this: Q: Can an Uzbek participate [...]

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Why Kyrgyzstan’s Social Media Matters

by Sarah Kendzior

The pundits have spoken, and, contrary to my earlier prediction that Kyrgyzstan’s uprising would be labeled another “Twitter Revolution”, they are now insisting the opposite — that the Kyrgyz tweets, videos and blog posts are irrelevant. The main proponent of this theory is Evgeny Morozov, who, as Michael noted earlier, views the internet activity of [...]

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