Livelihood, empowerment and conflict resolution in the lives of Indigenous women in Uzbekistan
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This dissertation examines the resilience mechanisms of the newly emerging livelihood activities of peasants, farmers, and traders in rural areas in post-Soviet Uzbekistan. Women’s coping, preserving, and accumulating resilience demonstrate their capabilities for transforming and mobilizing assets to develop livelihood activities and expand them through social networks with the markets and state. The livelihood analysis is complemented by the examination of indigenous saving networks such as gap, and savings networks that are local and emerged during Soviet times such as chernaya kassa. These savings networks serve as a livelihood resilience mechanism for social and economic empowerment in the Tashkent region. These networks represent a collective movement and action against economic dependency of women on men and state micro-loan bank system to which women at the grassroots level do not resort to. These social and economic networks that do not require external donor interventions and function outside the mainstream economic assessment have been able to empower women for social justice, redistribution of resources, knowledge, voice, and conflict resolution in ways that are vital for peace and community development. Using in-depth interviews and narrative methodology, this study examines women’s indigenous conflict resolution practices used in rural communities. It examines such ceremonies as mavlud, ihson, Bibi Seshanba (Lady Tuesday), and Mushkul Kushod (Solver of Difficulties); healing practices; and grassroots peacebuilding methods. This research emphasizes how the conflict resolution practices of women are woven into their everyday life, and function autonomously from the hierarchical elite-driven Women’s Committees and state court systems established in Soviet times. Within the ethnographies of conflict at micro and macro levels, many local healers and otins (religious teachers) understand the structural roots of inequalities, which decrease women’s access to resources and consequently their fair distribution and women’s choices. These religious leaders use their discursive knowledge, based on Islam, Sufism, shamanism, and animism to challenge and transform women’s subordination, abuse, limited property rights, and other practices that impinge on women’s needs and rights. These female religious leaders, through different ceremonial practices, create space for raising the critical consciousness of women and transform the social order for maintaining organic peace in the communities.