Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology University of Zurich

VARIATIONS ON UZBEK IDENTITY Strategic Choices, Cognitive Schemas and Political Constraints in Identification Processes

Strategic Choices, Cognitive Schemas and Political Constraints in Identification Processes

Volume 7, Integration and Conflict Studies

Author(s) Peter Finke

Publisher New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books
Year of publication



“…a meticulous study of ethnic groups faring in different regions of contemporary Uzbekistan. Nowadays, when there are so many unjustifiable restrictions. . . to study Uzbek society, this book is a lucky example of a scholar who managed, in spite of all restrictions, to conduct and complete substantial fieldwork research. . . . It has been decades since Uzbekistan has seen such a breadth of ethnographic observations.”  ·  Alisher Ilkhamov, Independent Scholar

Throughout its history the concept of “Uzbekness,” or more generally of a Turkic-speaking sedentary population, has continuously attracted members of other groups to join, as being Uzbek promises opportunities to enlarge ones social network. Accession is comparatively easy, as Uzbekness is grounded in a cultural model of territoriality, rather than genealogy, as the basis for social attachments. It acknowledges regional variation and the possibility of membership by voluntary decision. Therefore, the boundaries of being Uzbek vary almost by definition, incorporating elements of local languages, cultural patterns and social organization. This book combines an historical analysis with thorough ethnographic field research, looking at differences in the conceptualization of group boundaries and the social practices they entail. It does so by analysing decision-making processes by Uzbeks on the individual as well as cognitive level and the political configurations that surround them.

Peter Finke is Professor for Social Anthropology at the University of Zurich and Co-director of the Centre for Anthropological Studies on Central Asia (CASCA). Between 2000 and 2006 he was a Research Fellow and Head of a Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle. He also served as a Visiting Professor at the University of New Hampshire (2002/2003) and the Middle Eastern Technical University, Ankara (2004 to 2006). Since the early 1990s he has conducted field research in Mongolia, Kazakstan, and Uzbekistan, and has published extensively on economic transformation, social change and processes of identity formation.