Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies

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(Post)Imperial Turns

20.09.2015 – 27.09.2015

The overriding theme of 2015’s summer school “(Post)Imperial Turns” brought our participants in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek. Our stay in this for many of us largely unknown region was very impressive and enjoyable.

Report by Kathleen Beger (translated by Drivalda Delia)

We formed three interdisciplinary working groups that dealt with “International or Imperial Contexts,” “Markets and People,” and “Visions and Representations.” The discussions we had with the students and PhD candidates of the I. Arabaev Kyrgyz State University were very insightful. The informative guided tour “Utopian History of Bishkek” on the Soviet architectural heritage supplemented our respective discussions on the theoretical approaches of (post)imperial
turns. There were also evening lectures, museum and bazaar visits as well as a trip into the surrounding area of the Kyrgyz capital.

In the face of the then forthcoming parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan in October 2015, Beate Eschment’s lecture “No democracy in Kyrgyzstan – what then?” and Diana Oshurakhunova’s insights from her experience at the NGO “Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society” and her engagement in election observation
succeeded in raising awareness on the current problems of the country. Not only were we introduced to the
political system of Kyrgyzstan, but we also learned about the challenges and opportunities, fears and hopes that move people in the country. Our meeting with Emil Umetaliev, a successful Kyrgyz entrepreneur, who shared with his involvement in the financial and political life of the country since the collapse of the Soviet Union, was also very engaging.

The concluding event of our stay was the visit to the memorial of the victims of Stalinism “Ata Beyit” and
the subsequent hike in Teplye Kluchi, after which we could enjoy the Kyrgyz cuisine one last time. Overall, through its combination of theory and practice, the summer school decidedly contributed to the broadening of our knowledge on
Kyrgyzstan, and sometimes we had to reinterpret it or revise it all together.