Abstract: This presentation will describe our research conducting oral histories on kidnapping, with brides, grooms, and others involved, including family members, neighbors and friends. The existing research on ala kachuu has been done by sociologists, tracking the frequency of kidnappings, and by anthropologists, evaluating it in light of theories of patriarchy and shame. Our interviews allow the participants to speak for themselves and to provide their own account of the practice and how it has shaped their lives. We will provide a brief overview of our methodology, present selections from the interviews, and discuss our preliminary analysis.
Bios of presenters:
Dr. Zhanyl Bokontaeva is a citizen of Kyrgyzstan and one of few people doing oral histories in Central Asia. She earned her doctorate from Leningrad State University, with a degree in political economics. She is the head of the philosophy department at Issyk Kul State University after K.Tynystanov, where she teaches economics and gender sociology. Her oral history book, Businesswomen of the Issyk-Kul: Oral Stories of Success (2003) traced the development of women’s entrepreneurship in the financial crisis after the fall of the Soviet Union. It was awarded the Diploma Prize of the President of the Kyrgyz Republic for its contribution to gender issues. Her current oral history work, on the practice of bride kidnapping, relates to similar issues of women’s self-determination and independence in Kyrgyzstan.
Dr. Djamilya Asanalieva is a historian and activist working in the field of women’s issues. She earned her doctorate at Moscow State University, with a degree in historical studies. She teaches at Issyk Kul State University after K. Tynystanov, where she has been head of the department of general history. She has done previous work with bride kidnapping, using focus groups to study its root causes. She is also very active in public work as a member of the NGO “Leader”, the chairman of “Reed”, and a decade of experience doing trainings in human rights.
Dr. Woden Teachout is a Fulbright scholar at Issyk Kul State University. She earned her PhD in American Studies from Harvard University, and currently teaches history and culture at Union Institute and University. She is the author of two books, Capture the Flag: A Political History of American Patriotism, and Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community and Bringing Decision Making Back Home. She studies issues of gender, culture, and national identity.
Maryn Lewallen is a Peace Corps volunteer working in the sphere of health care and women’s issues. Before coming to Kyrgyzstan, she graduated from Beloit College with highest honors and was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa. In her work with the Peace Corps, she has developed and facilitated women’s clubs, worked with peer educators to bring reproductive education into local schools, and trained fellow volunteers. She is fluent in Russian and understands Kyrgyz.
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