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Old slogans ringing hollow? The legacy of social engineering, statebuilding and the ‘dilemma of difference’ in (post-) Soviet Kyrgyzstan

Lottholz, P. (2018) Old slogans ringing hollow? The legacy of social engineering, statebuilding and the ‘dilemma of difference’ in (post-) Soviet Kyrgyzstan. Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding. pp. 405-424. ISSN 1750-2985

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/17502977.2018.1507869


This article illustrates the ‘dilemma of difference’ of post-conflict peacebuilding in the Kyrgyz Republic in Central Asia. Following inter-communal clashes in 2010, the country has received significant support in the form of peacebuilding and conflict prevention programmes and aid. Still, national policy makers retained their sovereignty and carried out peacebuilding in line with the country’s historical legacy and cultural specificities. I illustrate the ‘dilemma of difference’ precluding sustainable peacebuilding and conflict transformation in this context because, as Minow argues, difference and the disadvantage and stigma associated with it is either silenced and ignored or over-emphasised, leading to marginalisation through victimisation. I trace the establishment of a territorialised and essentialised understanding of ethnicity through the social transformations of Kyrgyzstan in the early Soviet and the post-Soviet period. I then show how, since the ‘2010 events’, authorities attempted to do peacebuilding and conflict prevention with appeals to multicultural peace and diversity through the Soviet-era idea of ‘people’s friendship’. Such efforts and corresponding peacebuilding initiatives in southern Kyrgyzstani communities face, as I show, inherent contradictions given exclusionary national-level language and cultural policies and a focus on donor satisfaction which serve to brush over reported tensions, exclusion and conflict.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:78988
Uncontrolled Keywords:Political Science and International Relations, Law
Publisher:Informa UK Limited

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