The purpose of this chapter is to describe how indigenous social and economic networks of rural women in Uzbekistan function as collective action for social and economic empowerment since 1991 to the present, the time when Uzbekistan moved from Soviet centrally planned to a market-oriented economy. This system of economic empowerment shows how women's agency, power, and knowledge reorganizes male dominated gendered space. In particular, I will examine women's gap and chenrnay kassa function as a mechanism for livelihood resilience and social and economic empowerment in the post-socialist economy.
Gaps, or more precisely the institution of the locally organized rotating savings association and recreational network known as gap or sometimes called as gashtak, tukma, or ziefat, are the local structures of power and authority of socio-economic communal life in Uzbekistan. Gaps are social gatherings of approximately 12 or more women who meet at least once a month. Each gap is headed by jo'ra boshi (a leader) who sets rules with its members, solves conflicts and takes care of accounting. These social networks operate also as indigenous economic networks where all participants contribute fixed funds that are given in turn to the host of the event which they receive as a lump sum payment at a future gathering. Each member take turns in hosting the event at their homes until the full rotation is complete. Then the next round of gap starts. At the time of the fieldwork, 1Kg of meat was worth 6–8 thousand so'm (equivalent of US$4–6), and is the index that is used in calculating the amount that each member contributes. The contribution amount is influenced by the gap's purpose, the status, and wealth of its members.
I argue that traditional socio-economic networks structures function not just as anticolonial solidarity groups against regimes, but also decolonizing networks for social justice, redistribution of resources, healing, meaning making, voice, knowledge, agency, and conflict resolution.
Tursunova, Z.M. (2011), "Collective Action as a Space of Agency, Power, and Knowledge: A Case Study of Gaps", Christine Snyder, A. and Phetsamay Stobbe, S. (Ed.) Critical Aspects of Gender in Conflict Resolution, Peacebuilding, and Social Movements (Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, Vol. 32), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 75-99. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0163-786X(2011)0000032007
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