Bakyt Baimatov, Ph.D., Institute of Political and Social Sciences, The University of Vienna (Vienna, Austria)


This is the first study to address an ongoing gap in current literature on informal patterns of associational self-organization and assertion in peripheral communities of Kyrgyzstan. The study looks at pertinent perspectives and reflections on the meaning of civil society in Kyrgyzstan. It raises a crucial policy-tied point that the externally imported concept of civil society can have sweepingly different meanings and manifestations in local context. The key corollary of the overall argumentation is that a standard donor approach to the phenomenon of civil society and the applicability of the term, in its loose meaning, to indigenous environment of patrimonial polities is, in fact, myopic.

In this vein, the following argument made by Roy is not supported by current evidence and field perspectives on traditional forms of self-assertion in Kyrgyzstan: In the conceptualization based on Western ideas of political and economic freedom (free elections, free markets), civil society has to be created from scratch in Central Asia. This is either because there is nothing of value today upon which to build (the entire Soviet legacy being cast as negative)or because there is no such thing as a traditional society in Central Asia, owing to the onslaught of the Soviet system on previous social structures.

Further, the study attempts to unravel complex underpinnings of Kyrgyzstans diverse society and communitarianism through exploring the tribal, clan and kinship affiliations as well as.

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