Cultural anthropology

Cultural History of Water in Central Asia

Junior Research Group, funded by the Excellence Initiative University of Tübingen

1. Group leader: Dr. Jeanne Féaux de la Croix

2. Term: 2014-2020

3. Group members: Dr. Flora Roberts, Nurzat Sultanalieva, M.A., Xeniya Prilutskaya (M.A.)

4. Research location: Central Asia

5. Summary:

Across the world, there are enormous inequalities in people’s access to fresh water, with climate change likely to further exacerbate the situation.

As a group of environmental anthropologists and historians, we set out to trace people’s changing attitudes to water in Central Asia. We pursue historically-informed research on moral economies of water in a landlocked region where most agriculture depends on irrigation.

We ask in what contexts water in Central Asia was and is treated as sacred, as a public or private resource (in various formats) or used to produce other resources such as electricity and cotton.

Dr. Flora Roberts joined the group in 2016 to pursue a history of the ‘Tajik Sea’, the Kairakum reservoir established in the post-war Ferghana valley (PostDoc). She shares an interest in Soviet tourism and sanatoria with Nurzat Sultanalieva’s ethnography of water on holy lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan (PhD project since 2014). Group leader Dr. Jeanne Féaux de la Croix has been conducting research with pastoralists, dam-builders and teenage residents on the Naryn river of Kyrgyzstan, using participatory video and biographic methods since 2014.

The group collaborates closely with a number of related projects in Tübingen (overview):

Our offices can be found in the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology in Tübingen castle and Gartenstraße 19.