“This very rich and accessible ethnography speaks to all social sciences researchers working in countries that live through major social, political, economic and symbolic restructuration due to their adoption of the market economy and democracy (Central Asia, the Balkans)…This ethnography is an excellent point of departure for future anthropology researchers who work in a very complex and paradoxical world of today.”• Anthropology News
“…a wide-ranging and engaging book, which provides a vivid portrait of the fall-out from two decades of economic and political experimentation in this ‘laboratory’ for democratic reform in Central Asia.”• Anthropos
“…the best book to date on post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan. It combines personal observations with careful, critical analysis. The style is at times humorous and conversational, creating the impression at first glance that it might be a somewhat superficial account of the region. In fact, however, it is an extraordinarily perceptive analysis of the process of transition and re-adjustment in a highly complex society.”• Shirin Akiner, University of Cambridge and University of London
After the collapse of the USSR, Kyrgyzstan chose a path of economic and political liberalization. Only a few years later, however, the country ceased producing anything of worth and developed a dependence on the outside world, particularly on international aid. Its principal industry, sheep breeding, was decimated by reforms suggested by international institutions providing assistance. Virtually annihilated by privatization of the economy and deserted by Moscow, the Kyrgyz have turned this economic “opening up” into a subtle strategy to capture all manner of resources from abroad. In this study, the author describes the encounters, sometimes comical and tinged with incomprehension, between the local population and the well-meaning foreigners who came to reform them.
Boris Petric is a Social Anthropologist and a Senior Researcher at the CNRS in Marseilles. His first book Pouvoir, don et réseaux en Ouzbékistan post-soviétique (2002), was awarded the Le Monde prize for university research. He recently edited Democracy at Large: NGO’s, Political Foundations, Think Tanks and International Organisations (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).