Public and communal spaces and their relation to the spatial dynamics of ethnic riots : violence and non-violence in the city of Osh
Title: Public and communal spaces and their relation to the spatial dynamics of ethnic riots : violence and non-violence in the city of Osh
Author: KUTMANALIEV, Joldon
Citation: International journal of sociology and social policy, 2015, Vol. 35, No. 7/8, pp. 449-477
This paper is one of the first attempts to explain the local dynamics of the 2010 ethnic riots in Kyrgyzstan. No scholarly work has attempted to systematically analyze the 2010 ethnic violence and its local dynamics on the neighborhood scale. The purpose of this paper is to shed light on this gap by analyzing neighborhoods’ responses to the emerging violence in the city of Osh. In order to do this, the author compares two typical neighborhoods in Osh, one violent and the other non-violent, with different spatial structures and built environments that demonstrate/represent similar dynamics of riots in many other neighborhoods. The empirical findings of this paper are based on the ethnographic fieldwork the author carried out in 2010 and between 2012 and 2014. During nine months (in total) of the author’s ethnographic fieldwork, the author conducted around 60 semi-structured interviews in Osh city mainly with community leaders. In the author’s interview sampling, the author used two approaches: the snowball method and geographically/territorially representative sampling. The author argues that among other factors, a particular type of public space provides favorable conditions for riot occurrence or non-occurrence. For example, in Osh, such places as areas around the central bazaar and densely populated multi-story building complexes were especially riot-prone. By contrast, residential areas with individual-unit houses and low residential mobility represented communally private spaces with more easy riot-control. In addition, some residential areas implemented strategies such as physical self-isolation to avoid violence. By restricting freedom of movement and erecting improvised barricades, the residents of such neighborhoods created a temporally new space with its own rules and interethnic cooperation. This paper suggests new insights in the analysis of riots by connecting theoretical categories and concepts of space provided by scholars of contentious politics and applying them to the case of the 2010 ethnic riots in Osh city. By analyzing riot dynamics on the neighborhood scale, this research contributes to the understanding of the spatial dynamics of ethnic riots.
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