Cyber Chaikhana: What’s new?

Cross-posted on neweurasia.net In 2008, neweurasia and the wider Stanosphere will leave the cyberspace and together create a book: Cyber Chaikhana. Check here for the introduction post on the homebase and here for the project’s dedicated blog. Below an update on our progress and some clarifications. Round 1 pre-selections for articles written in English have been completed. They may be reviewed here. The strongest chapter ideas so far appear to be: leadership, information, democracy and civil society, labor, and some human-interest. There has been some confusion regarding: (A) the status of articles written in Russian, (B) the English and Russian…

Pre-selected chapters round 1 for Turkmenistan

Finally, I come to Turkmenistan, which Western media describes as the most enigmatic of the Central Asian states but which I like to think of as a actually pretty simple to understand.  Here is a country effectively without a past. Don’t get me wrong, written history for the territory exists, and it covers a period as far back as the Achaemenid dynasty in ancient Persia.  And it’s not as if modern Turkmen don’t have anything to look back upon fondly.  For example, in the form of the Seljuks, they ruled a substantial chunk of Islamic territory.  However, after the Mongolian conquests little is documented for…

Pre-selected chapters round 1 for Uzbekistan

I, your devoted “cyber-akhbari,” remain hard at work going through the archives for the best material. So far the most challenging subject country has been Uzbekistan, about which the neweurasia community has produced a wealth of incisive coverage. One result is that my methodology has necessarily grown in sophistication. Another result is that I have realized, with horror, how much I may be missing from the untranslated Russian posts. Ben and I are working on a solution to this problem. You will probably be surprised that I am using a very antiquated device to jot down and collate the selections…

Pre-selected chapters round 1 for Tajikistan

Tajikistan has presented me with an interesting conundrum. Whereas Uzbekistan has many hot-button topics that have a cross-regional reach, and Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are, so to speak, all over the map, Tajikistan has many topics which are peculiar to it alone. Thus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan threaten to take too prominent a position in the book at the expense of Tajikistan. This ironically and sadly parallels the situation in the Western media’s coverage of the region — a parallel I will do my best not to let manifest. The conundrum is further complicated by the fact that it is difficult…

Pre-selected chapters round 1 for Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan

As I proceed in this project, more and more I feel an affinity with the Middle Eastern and Transoxianan historians of the late antiquity and medieval eras. Writing first in Arabic, later in Persian and Turkish, they were called akhbari, which literally meant “notetakers of the past” or historians. Rarely was an invidual akhbari an historian by profession; instead, many of them worked primarily as jurists or muhadithun (traditionists). As such, they were trained in the processes of editing hadith, the written traditions about Muhammad and his companions. Fundamental to the profession of the muhadithun was the compiling and redacting…

A comment on print and internet journalism in America and Central Asia

In the Facebook group, New Media in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, one poster wrote the following: Journalism in post-soviet countries is more likely to be ‘authorless’.  It is definitely arguable, but here are my observations. Couple years ago Azattyk Media (where I currently work) launched TV projects. The anchor of one of these projects became well-known. When he was walking through Bazaar (open air market), people would stare at him and say ‘Yngaisyz Suroolor is coming’. Yngaisyz Suroolor is name of program he hosts, and nobody would recall name of journalist. It seems like the only way for journalist…

Call for Photobloggers

This is a special message to neweurasia‘s photobloggers and photographically-inclined writers: CONTEST ANNOUNCEMENT: CyberChaikhana will be printed in full color, inside and out. The plan is to combine the weblog text posts with stunning graphic design, and most of all, photographs taken for and by the neweurasia and Central Asian weblogging community. In other words, your photographs. Because the content of the book is still in process, what we need most right now is the cover photograph (we will put out a call for photobloggers for the interior of the book later). The photograph must be in keeping with the…

Chapter Ideas: Problems and Possibilities

Let’s get right to the heart of the matter: chapters. As I said before, CyberChaikhana will highlight the 50-60 best posts from our extended network of bloggers, in 8-10 themed chapters. Ben and I have some ideas as to themes and topics we could cover. For example: “Minorities,” “Visions for the Future,” “Reflections of the Past,” and “Women’s Issues in Central Asia.” However, what we really want to hear from you are your ideas on this subject. But before I open up the forum, we all need to keep in mind certain considerations: (A) If we calculate that the average…

Welcome!

Hello everybody, My name is Christopher Schwartz. I will be the editor for both the CyberChaikhana weblog and the book. I would like to kick start this weblog with one of my favorite quotes from the Koran: “If all the forests were pens, and the oceans ink, the words of God would still not be exhausted.” These words could never be truer than for Central Asia. There are so many stories in the region being written right now, from Astana to Ashgabat to Bishkek to Dushanbe to Tashkent, that it would indeed require a forest of pens and an ocean…