A careful contribution to the lasting debate on the structure of social and political networks in Central Asia, this short article nourished by fieldwork data suggests that Central Asian social and political networks “are very complex.” The author notices that in both Tajikistan and Uzbekistan they draw on various loyalties including family ties, friendship, work, education, and patron-client relationships, being neither regional nor clan-based. At the élite level, she observes the dominance of patron-client relationships, including or not regional or kinship ties. (The notion of ‘clan’ itself is poorly explained, in spite of the abundance of critical literature on it, nor its utilisation for the analysis of non-tribalised societies. The contextualisation of self-denominations and identifications has not been addressed too, in spite of its epistemological significance for the anthropology of identities. As for the élite level, a historical assessment of urban ‘factions’ ― the Arabic, Persian and Turkic term firqa has been widely in use in pre-Soviet Central Asia ― would have provided the author with productive elements of comparison, to say nothing of the literature produced on the more recent Tajikistani civil war.)

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: II-7.4.E-670