Confronting the Money Power: Anti-debt Movements in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan Dr Elmira Salbatiyeva, University of Kent

The Institute of Middle East, Central Asia and Caucasus Studies (MECACS) Presents ‘Confronting the Money Power: Anti-debt Movements in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan’ with Dr Elmira Satybaldieva, a Senior Research Fellow at the Conflict Analysis Research Centre, University of Kent.

This talk offers a first-person account of grassroots mobilisation against financial institutions in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. It focuses on the key factors for the evolution of the anti-debt movements and borrowers’ strategies to problematise debt and to demand state regulation of financial practices.

In Kyrgyzstan, the anti-debt mobilisation was driven by poor rural women, who were targeted by the financial industry under the guise of empowerment. In Kazakhstan, the mobilisation was accomplished by urban middle and lower classes, who were affected by the subprime mortgage lending crisis. The anti-debt resistance in both countries represented a strategy of self-preservation against the harmful effects of neoliberal finance.

Using primary and secondary interview data with the leaders and activists of the anti-debt movements, the talk explores the class struggle of indebted citizens against financial capital spanning over ten to 13 years. This struggle is far from over because the structural conditions of indebtedness remain in place.

Dr Satybaldieva’s main area of research interest is politics in the post-Soviet space, with a particular focus on grassroots activism and international development in Central Asia. She is currently researching Chinese, Russian and western investment strategies in Central Asia and their varied implications for the region. She has been researching the region for over 15 years, and published widely on social movements, development and political economy in the region.

Previously, Dr Satybaldieva worked at the American University-Central Asia and the Karelian Institute, University of Eastern Finland, and had fellowship at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University.

Email irevents@st-andrews.ac.uk to register by 5pm on Friday 9 April.

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