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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Institut für Europäische Ethnologie

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Institut für Europäische Ethnologie | Termine | Institutskolloquium im Wintersemester 2018/19

Institutskolloquium im Wintersemester 2018/19

Wann 15.01.2019 von 14:00 bis 16:00 (Europe/Berlin / UTC100) iCal
Wo Hausvogteiplatz 5-7, Raum 0007
Kontaktname Dr. Jens Adam

On Political Refusal: Sayasat and Democratic Disavowal in Post-Revolutionary Kyrgyzstan

Madeleine Reeves (University of Manchester)


Referendums rupture the normal socio-material field, exposing the artifice at the heart of all sovereign claims. It is the very capacity to conjure ‘the people’ that gives a referendum its authorising power: to found a new constitution; to ‘take back control’. But this very moment of conjuring can also elicit feelings of disquiet at not being represented, or the institution itself being unable to contain the social antagonism that it sets in motion. In Kyrgyzstan such disquiet has crystallized around the disavowal of sayasat, politics, as a realm of volatile and potentially destructive social antagonism. Drawing on ethnography from Kyrgyzstan, which, in December 2016 held its sixth constitutional referendum in twenty-three years, this paper takes popular opposition to the referendum as the starting point for an anthropology of political refusal. Critically engaging anthropology’s predominant concern with political hope, it considers what is at stake for our understanding of democratic disquiet by engaging non-participation as an object of ethnographic concern.


Madeleine Reeves is Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester. Her research explores questions of politics, mobility, territory and place, with particular reference to Kyrgyzstan and Russia. She is the author of Border Work: Spatial Lives of the State in Rural Central Asia (Cornell, 2014). She has edited volumes on the anthropology of the state in Central Asia (with Judith Beyer and Johan Rasanayagam), on affect and political life (with Mateusz Laszczkowski) and on conviviality in ‘marginal hubs’ (with Magnus Marsden). With Rebecca Bryant she is currently completing a project on vernacular sovereignty claims in contexts of disputed territory.



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