Reviews

Carried as an inquiry in ethnology, this study, defended as a doctoral dissertation in 1995, would certainly be best described as historical human geography.  After a basic overview of the ethnic history of the Kyrgyz in the Tian Shan and few remarks on the main features of their mode of subsistence, a first section presents the technical apparatus and the organisation of pastoral activities among northern Kyrgyz at the turn of the twentieth century and describes the changes that occured with the sedentarisation and then, as a consequence of collectivisation.  The author relies thoroughly on a wide range of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century sources on Kyrgyz animal and crop husbandry, some of which are well-known (like Kushner’s Gornaia Kirgiziia [High Kyrgyzia], 1929, to name but one), but others either rarely used (like the two volumes on domestic animals in Kyrgyzia, Domashnye zhyvotnye Kirgizii, 1930) or barely out of reach.  A second section, the most voluminous, analyses the organisation and evolution of agro-pastoral activities during the first years after the break-up of the Soviet Union and the dismissal of collective economy.  Here the author makes an extensive use of unpublished statistical sources and of data provided by informants on the field.  Most of the author’s arguments deal with technical change and transformations in land use and management.  He tends thus to push somehow power relations to the background.  Though limited to northern Kyrgyzstan, this study offers a solid basis to whoever intends to further investigate change in Kyrghyz pastoral economy throughout the twentieth and at the turn of the twenty-first century.

François Ömer Akakça, Humboldt University, Berlin
CER: I-2.4-149