Young Muslim Mission and Development Workers in Kyrgyzstan
Jeanne Féaux de la Corix will speak on "Activists for a Better Future: A Comparison of young Muslim Mission and Development Workers in Kyrgyzstan."
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This lecture investigates different ways of struggling for a better future in Kyrgyzstan by comparing the activities of young development workers and Muslim missionaries in Central Asia. Although these activists tend to rhetorically distance themselves and their "faiths" from each other, they share a common concern in persuading people to adopt new practices and ideas for a better life. Comparing their "faiths," methods, and their public reception can teach us how people imagine change for the better, and how ideas travel through Central Asia and beyond. Muslim mission and development workers also share the characteristic of being young activists that try to reach out to mixed or older audiences. They all embody new forms and sources of authority from abroad. Since age hierarchies and expectations of juniority and seniority play such a significant role in Central Asia, the lecture asks how these dynamics affect their work. The lecture will argue that rather than challenging the legitimacy of established age ideologies head-on, missionaries and development workers instead support them rhetorically, and attempt to channel such ideals to suit their own agenda. Although these young Kyrgyzstanis do not explicitly challenge a model of respect based on age, they nevertheless model new forms and sources of authority. In the long-term, these new practices work against age-inflected notions of authority upheld as tradition.
Jeanne Féaux de la Corix presently holds a research fellowship at Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin with the title "Activists for a better future: a comparison of Muslim missions, late Soviet and contemporary development work in Kyrgyzstan." She has a PhD. in Social Anthropology from the University of St. Andrews (2010) and a MA in Social anthropology from the University of Oxford. She has published extensively on Central Asia, and especially on Kyrgyzstan.