Resource Nationalism and Spiritual Pathways to Sustainability in Kyrgyzstan

Authors: Vincent Artman*, WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY
Topics: Religion and Belief Systems , Cultural and Political Ecology, Eurasia
Keywords: resource nationalism, eurasia, religion, political ecology
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 48
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Earth’s natural environment figures heavily in many nationalist ideologies. During the period of Romantic nationalism, for example, the environment was conceived of as consecrated soil out of which primordial nations emerged, and to which their mythical and historical dramas were indelibly connected. Modern nationalist ideologies, meanwhile, frequently link the natural environment and resources contained therein to discrete political-territorial units, as well as to questions of identity and belonging. At the same time, the nationalist imaginary is also frequently connected with specific religious traditions, which may themselves embrace particular ecological perspectives. This paper explores the nexus of religion-ecology-nationalism, with the aim of demonstrating how the intersection of religion and nationalism might work to constitute a form of normative praxis vis-à-vis issues related to the preservation of the natural environment. In particular, the paper focuses on the issues surrounding Lake Issyk Kul and the Kumtor gold mine in the Kyrgyz Republic, where protest against environmental degradation frequently assumes a form that is at once nationalist and religious or spiritual. Finally, the paper examines how spatial practices, such as designating particular areas as sacred space, are consciously constructed as means of effecting the preservation of ecologies of significance in the national imagination. The paper highlights the imbrications of religious and nationalist discourses vis-à-vis political ecology and suggests that further research is needed on this subject.

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