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Pursuing the Intellectual: Changing Conditions of Cultural Production in Dushanbe, Tajikistan

O'Connor, Aeron; (2019) Pursuing the Intellectual: Changing Conditions of Cultural Production in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

Attempting to bring non-European intellectual canons into further dialogue with anthropology, this thesis revolves around the lives and narratives of scholars, artists, musicians, writers and other cultural producers – intelligentsia – in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Focusing on some of Dushanbe’s earliest urban inhabitants, many originally from Samarqand and Bukhara, the thesis examines how Soviet central Asian intellectuals are recognised, understood and treated by international scholarship, the state, and canonised world histories. Accounts of travel, literary and musical exchange across Europe, south and central Asia, are looked at in particular through combined ethnographic and comparative literature approaches. These worldly, transnational experiences of intellectual life are then contextualised within the domestic, personal sphere of the ‘intellectual’. In both travel and family history, forums for the exchange of ideas become central to the process of intellectual pursuit. By approaching intellectual history through family history, instead of geo-political events, this cross-generational study takes a longue durée ethnographic approach to the study of Dushanbe (as a site of cultural production), a city only formed a century ago, but home to centuries-old lineages of creative, critical thought transformed by socialism. At the time of research for this project, many urban cultural producers described a “crisis of knowledge” in contemporary Tajikistan. This thesis therefore explores the conditions in which intellectual life flourishes, stagnates or even suffocates. Throughout this ethnography of Tajik cultural life, anthropology’s ‘pursuit of the intellectual’, both in research and professional terms, is also questioned. The methodologies, analyses and agendas behind anthropology – of the discipline and the individual anthropologist – are critically engaged with and contextualised within the (a)politics of legitimate flows of knowledge. Ultimately, ‘intellectual pursuit’ as an ethnographic theme helps deconstruct the anthropologist’s own intellectual heritage and highlight how the intellectual life of research ‘subjects’ – in this case, Tajik cultural producers – impacts anthropology.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Pursuing the Intellectual: Changing Conditions of Cultural Production in Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10071562
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