Social Texture of the Central Asian Commercial Terrain: Kyrgyz, Russian and Uzbek Merchants in the Post-Soviet Trading Networks
The Soviet legacy left Kyrgyz Republic with neither resources nor hopes for economic prosperity. Kyrgyzstan became a supply of cheap labor for more prosperous republics of Central Asia and Russia. This regional economic imbalance is portrayed in the current study as the main engine of a multifaceted trading network, which evolved from the ground and enveloped a vast geographic area stretching from China to Middle East and Europe. This paper sets out to portray the social texture of this web of trading linkages and analyze its structure by comparing the economic performance and relational characteristics of three major ethnic groups of merchants: Kyrgyz, Russian and Uzbek on three major markets in Kyrgyzstan: Dordoi, Kara-Suu and Osh. The research establishes a link between the complexity of trading operations on markets on one side and nature of relational assets as expressed in social and commercial networks of traders on the other. The paper is based on the results of the extended nine month fieldwork on three markets carried out in 2004-2005 as a part of the ongoing PhD Thesis Research titled “Regional Changes in Kyrgyzstan: Bazaars, Open-Air Markets and Social Networks”.
Keywords: Ethnicity, Family and Tribal Ties, Regional Relational Assets, Social Networks, Economic Development
Dr. Emil Nasritdinov
PhD Candidate, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, University of Melbourne