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Post-conflict aid and memory work in the Fergana Valley

Authors: Caitlin Ryan*, University of Colorado At Boulder
Topics: Cultural Geography, Development, Urban Geography
Keywords: Peace and conflict, memory work, critical development geography, urbanization, postsocialism
Session Type: Paper
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This paper considers the production and circulation of expert knowledge about the causes of peace and conflict in the Fergana Valley of Central Asia. It looks at the particular readings of history that are recruited into the service of western development and humanitarian interventions, showing that memory work is itself a part of the standard “toolbox” used by aid groups. In crafting a narrative about the historical roots of the 2010 conflict, mainstream development groups frame the “problem” that their interventions are designed to address in ways that are amendable to ideological principles of liberal democracy and citizenship. I trace the historical narrative contained in influential reports by major western think tanks about the 2010 conflict in Osh, drawing attention to the forgotten histories and contestations related to land, housing and demographic change. These erased histories should cause us to look beyond identity politics and so-called “ethnic conflict,” and cause us to think more broadly about the impact of modern processes (industrialization and rapid urbanization) on the relationship between people and place in the global South.

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