Short Courses

I have convened or taught on the following short courses:

⋅ ‘Muslims in a Global Context: Central Asia’ (Guest lecturer, Carnegie Mellon ad University of Pittsburgh joint short course, March 2014).

⋅‘The Anthropology of the State’ (Seminar sequence, HESP ReSET Project on Building Anthropology in Eurasia, Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan, August 2009).
Continue reading

Border Work in the Ferghana Valley

This project explores the everyday materialisation of new international borders between Kyrgyzstan and its two Ferghana valley neighbours, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. In a context where the territorial and institutional coordinates of state sovereignty are contested, how and when does a border come to materialise in daily life? How do herders, traders, border guards, taxi drivers and others negotiate what and where a border is, and what kinds of mobilities it should filter or limit? How do borders work and get worked when the border is encountered as a ‘chessboard’ rather than a line? I began work for this project for my doctoral dissertation, conducting research in the Isfara valley along the borders of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and the Sokh valley on two sides of the Kyrgyzstan/Uzbekistan boundary in 2004-5. Continue reading

Border Work

Border Work cover-Border Work: Spatial Lives of the State in Rural Central Asia

Cornell University Press series on Culture and Society After Socialism, 2014.

In Central Asia’s Ferghana Valley, where Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan meet, state territoriality has taken on new significance in these states’ second decade of independence, reshaping landscapes and transforming livelihoods in a densely populated, irrigation-dependent region.

Continue reading

The political lives of infrastructure

This project explores the simultaneous attraction and contention surrounding new road and border infrastructures in southern Kyrgyzstan. In the Isfara valley, where I have been conducting research since 2004, new so-called ‘independent roads’ promise connectivity, modernity and territorial integrity in a region where the juridical and geographical limits of the Kyrgyzstani and Tajikistani nation-states are contested.
Continue reading

Ethnographies of the State in Central Asia

Ethnographies of the state_cover-

Ethnographies of the State in Central Asia: Performing Politics

(co-edited with Johan Rasanayagam and Judith Beyer). Indiana University Press, 2014.

This volume brings ethnographic research in Central Asia into long-overdue conversation with recent political anthropological debate on the state. By attending ethnographically to the various ways in which the state in Central Asia is practically enacted, morally navigated, remembered, invok Continue reading

Current doctoral students

Current PhD supervision (University of Manchester)

For doctoral projects supervised to completion please see here

Therese (Tree) Kelly (2015, in progress): Anarchist activism in Bristol (second supervisor, with Katie Smith)

Phaedra Douzina-Bakalaki (2013, in progress): Situating the discourses and practices of Islamic charity in contemporary Greece (second supervisor, with Michelle Obeid)

Rachel Smith (2011, in progress): The ‘Good House’: the domestic moral economy of migration and development in Vanuatu (second supervisor, with Karen Sykes)



Movement, Power and Place in Central Asia and Beyond

MovementMovement, Power and Place in Central Asia and Beyond: Contested Trajectories

Special Double Issue of Central Asian Survey (Vol. 30, issues 3-4, 2011), subsequently published as a volume in Routledge’s Third Worlds series (2012).

Drawing together established scholars and a new generation of historians, geographers and anthropologists, this volume brings empirical specificity and theoretical depth to debates about the politics of place-making in this diverse region, making an important contribution to Central Asian studies and a distinctive regional comparison to the ‘spatial turn’ in social analysis.
Continue reading

International collaborations

Membership of doctoral committees outside Manchester

Takhmina Shokirova (2013, in progress, Wilfrid Laurier University), Gender Relations among Tajik Migrants in Russia (external committee member)

Aminat Chokobaeva (2011, in progress, Australian National University), The 1916 ‘Great Revolt’, History and Memory in Kyrgyzstan (external committee member)

Jake Fleming (2012, in progress, University of Wisconsin-Madison), Building Plant Bodies: People, Trees, and Grafting in the Walnut-Fruit Forests of Kyrgyzstan (external committee member)

Feeling for the State

Within political anthropology, considerations of the technologies of state governance have tended to be rather divorced from discussions of feeling and sentiment. I am interested in the affective force of the state, both in the mundane interstices of ‘ordinary life’ (the desire, for instance, to have a well-ordered, infrastructurally predictable, territorially integral state), and at times of dramatic political upheaval, as occurred in Kyrgyzstan in March 2005 and April 2010, when the country’s first and second presidents were unseated in popular uprisings. Continue reading