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.