Part of the COMPAS Seminar Series Michaelmas 2013: Rebordering: reflections in relation to (post)socialism
Madeleine Reeves (University of Manchester) explores the relationship between infrastructure, (re)bordering, and inter-communal relations in rural Central Asia. Two decades after independence from the Soviet Union, large stretches of the international border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan remain to be juridically delimited or demarcated. The two states are in disagreement over which maps and normative acts, ratified in one republic but not the other when both were part of the Soviet Union, should be taken as the basis of negotiation for border delimitation today. This presentation explores the contemporary legacies of spatial indeterminacy for understanding the politics of territorial integrity in contemporary Kyrgyzstan. Drawing on ethnographic research in border villages, the paper explores local concerns over creeping migration at new international borders and the contention that has arisen over new initiatives of bypass-building that are intended to reinforce territorial integrity and transport independence in a context of disputed territoriality. In so doing, I seek to bring discussions of rebordering after socialism into conversation with the anthropology of infrastructure, to draw attention to the material politics of border work in contemporary Central Asia.