Border Work: Spatial Lives of the State in Rural Central Asia (Culture and Society after Socialism)

December 7, 2020
Border Work: Spatial Lives of the State in Rural Central Asia (Culture and Society after Socialism)

In Central Asia's Ferghana Valley, where Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan,and Tajikistan meet, state territoriality has taken on newsignificance in these states' second decade of independence,reshaping landscapes and transforming livelihoods in a denselypopulated, irrigation-dependent region. Through an innovativeethnography of social and spatial practice at the limits of thestate, Border Work explores the contested work ofproducing and policing "territorial integrity" when significantstretches of new international borders remain to be conclusivelydemarcated or effectively policed.Drawing on extensive ethnographicfieldwork, Madeleine Reeves follows traders, farmers, waterengineers, conflict analysts, and border guards as they negotiatethe practical responsibilities and social consequences ofproducing, policing, and deriving a livelihood across newinternational borders that are often encountered locally as"chessboards" rather than lines. She shows how the negotiation ofstate spatiality is bound up with concerns about legitimate ruleand legitimate movement, and explores how new attempts to securethe border, materially and militarily, serve to generate newsources of lived insecurity in a context of enduring social andeconomic inter-dependence. A significant contribution to CentralAsian studies, border studies, and the contemporary anthropology ofthe state, Border Work moves beyond traditionalethnographies of the borderland community to foreground theeffortful and intensely political work of producing statespace.