Universität KonstanzExzellenzcluster: Kulturelle Grundlagen von Integration

New release: The Force of Custom. By Judith Beyer

14. December 2016


Law and the Ordering of Everyday Life in Kyrgyzstan
Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press 2016

Judith Beyer presents a finely textured ethnographic study that sheds new light on the legal and moral ordering of everyday life in northwestern Kyrgyzstan. Through her extensive fieldwork, Beyer captures the thoughts and voices of local people in two villages, Aral and Engels, and combines these with firsthand observations to create an original ethnography.

Beyer shows how local Kyrgyz negotiate proper behavior and regulate disputes by invoking custom, known to the locals as salt. […] By interweaving case studies on kinship, legal negotiations, festive events, mourning rituals, and political and business dealings, Beyer shows how salt is the binding element in rural Kyrgyz social life, used to explain and negotiate moral behavior and to postulate communal identity. In this way, salt provides a time-tested, sustainable source of authentication that defies changes in government and the tides of religious movements. Beyer’s ground-level analysis provides a broad base of knowledge that will be valuable for students and researchers of contemporary Central Asia. (publisher)

Judith Beyer is Junior Professor of Political Anthropology at University of Konstanz. In sommer semester 2016, she has conducted research as a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study Konstanz about “Safeguarding possessions. Strategies of urban presence among religious minorities in Myanmar.”

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