LECTURE by Alima Bissenova, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology

at Nazarbayev University:

The construct of the "woman of the East" and the problem of her "salvation" in the Soviet and neoliberal discourses


“In the early Soviet period, the idea of a“ woman of the East ”was formed as a subject / person especially oppressed and suffering under the yoke of patriarchy,“ Eastern despotism ”and“ feudal traditions. ” The goal was announced to "free the woman of the East." Unfortunately, in the course of this project of emancipation, the “woman of the East” turned from a subject into an “object” of liberation - irrational, weak-willed and helpless. For example, just such - helpless and weak-willed - "women of the East" are represented in the classics of Soviet cinema (and Soviet Orientalism) "White Sun of the Desert." However, the historiography of this period shows that women were not weak-willed subjects, they were clearly aware of their interests and, if, despite the dominant discourse and the policy of emancipation, they returned to the “bosom of tradition” (for example, they preferred “to stay at home,” and not to work for a cotton factory built especially for them) - not because they were extremely irrational, but because they chose their own scenario of life.

Building on new research on 'empowerment' - the empowerment of women, this overview lecture proposes to start a discussion about different 'scenarios' for women and different 'freedom' options that do not necessarily exclude tradition. "


Alima Bisenova - Assistant Professor of Anthropology, specializes in urban anthropology, anthropology of Islam, intellectual history. Conducted ethnographic research in the largest cities of Kazakhstan: Almaty, Astana, Shymkent.

Interested in issues of social and spatial mobility, as well as the expression of class and religious identities in private and public spaces in the city.

Постер: Айгеша Оспанова

В постер вовлечена работа Алмагуль Менлибаевой

"Мой Шелковый Путь к тебе XII, Архитектура как ткань" (2018)

© Almagul Menlibayeva 

Courtesy American- Eurasian Art Advisors LLC.

All. Rights. Reserved.​