Money Lending in Jalal-Abad

As a break from Osh, I ventured to the the city of Jalal-Abad for the last few days, where I have been spending my days with money lenders in the local bazaar. I wanted to come to Jalal-Abad to get some information for my upcoming presentation on the situation of Uighurs Uzbeks after the summer conflict. Most of the damage took place in J-A and Osh, and visiting the cities has allowed me to see the damage and assess the social tensions first hand. I’ve been interviewing representatives from international organizations involved in the post-conflict humanitarian response as well as leaders of local NGOs.

My time with the money lenders has given me a lot of insight into the ways that people gain access to fast money, and their reasons for doing so. I have also learned more about the trade of gold and the quasi-legal market in official documents. Older women pawn their jewelry to get money for their local bazaar businesses while young men have been pawning their passports so they can buy elaborate presents for their girlfriends on International Women’s Day.

I hope to come back here in May and spend more time in the city, and get a better understanding of the business connections between here and Uzbekistan.

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4 Responses to Money Lending in Jalal-Abad

  1. Eva Brune says:

    Thank you very much for making this blog. Your journeys are very interesting. I am wondering if, in addition to learning more about money lending, you discover something similar to “money trust circles” for lack of a better name: when individuals — perhaps extended family members or neighbors or women’s work groups — come together to create savings clubs – where each person puts in a certain amount of money each week which creates a pool of money that is then given out weekly to one of the members of the group. For example, if I was a member of a group of 10 women and we each week put $10 into the pool for ten weeks, for $100 in each weekly pool, then each week for 10 weeks, one of the women from the group would take the pot. In this way, each woman would come into a big sum of money for purchasing an expensive item that they couldn’t afford themselves on a weekly basis. This is a common practice for people who do not have access, for whatever reason, to traditional banks. I’m trying to collect as many examples of this form of “banking” with as much information as possible about what local communities call the practice, how long it has been going on, who participates, how much they chip in, how they know each other, how its setup, and how it operates. It’s a huge practice in the Los Angeles, CA mexican-american community, and I’ve run across it in poverty-stricken areas of India. Thanks for your help – and any more information about money-lending in your region would be appreciated. I won’t necessary read your blog every week, so if you could also e-mail this information to me at my email address, I’d be much obliged. Enjoy your journeys! Eva

  2. jeremy says:

    Hello Eva. Thanks for the input. I have not seen any evidence of money trust circles here in KGstan, but I do know that it is a widespread practice among women in Turkey. I can even put you in touch with one of my close friends there whose mother has been in such a circle for years. I will send you an email with the info.

  3. wand says:

    Where did you present about Uighurs? You mean you wanted to know about the situation of Uighurs in Kyrgyzstan after the Kyrgyzstan conflict? What did you find?

    • jeremy says:

      Oops – I meant to type Uzbeks, not Uighurs. I have changed it in the text. I’m presenting at the Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting in Seattle on Thursday.

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