Matthias Klingenberg

Oral History, Contemporary Witnessing and History Projects in Central Asia

After the Soviet Union broke down, the first international organisations foraying into Central Asia, a remote and largely unknown region at the time, were looking to set up offices in Tashkent, Bishkek, Dushanbe and Almaty. Many of them made the mistake of trying to replicate existing programmes, designed for the Third World, in the new target region according to the maxim that “what helps in Africa can’t be bad for Central Asia.”

Sadly, they completely misjudged the exceptional situation in these post-Soviet countries in transition. Their assessment of the relationships between regimes and their populations was wrong, assuming as it did that people’s disastrous living conditions would provide the basis for a ‘critical mass’ just waiting to be activated by outside influences. For instance, that the impoverished rural population of Uz bekistan, of all groups, felt deeply loyal to its leadership and to its understanding of leadership, came as a surprise. Our western concepts of democracy, human rights, and liberté, égalité, fraternité were likewise unknown and not understood in Central Asia.

Many projects guided by modern western ideas like community mobilisation, advocacy or even gender mainstreaming, simply didn’t take effect in the long run. Rather, they were imposed on people from the outside and remained foreign, then and now diametrically opposed to the customs, traditions and rituals of the post-Soviet societies being targeted.

However, many American organisations (in particular) rightly saw that it was not primarily tangible assets that were missing for sustainable development (in the sense of trying to catch up on installing material infrastructure) but rather that the focus needed to be on helping people enjoy personal development and on activat ing citizens in these young republics – in other words, development needed to be initiated by reaching people and encouraging them first. Sadly, the effort to influ ence people’s real life situations and ways of thinking was generally not successful, even though this was an era otherwise guided by paradigms like ownership, local partnership and grassroots.

History and Identity: No Future without Past

The author will introduce here the History and Identity project series, which he believes makes an important contribution to the development of civil societies in Central Asia and is not imposed on them from above. Rather, this series succeeds in capturing the interest of target groups and makes new options available to them. This article will illuminate how DVV International’s history projects in Central Asia cover a full range of factors relevant to development and how the projects are es pecially effective in post-Soviet regions. Additionally, the author will describe what it means to embed a project well within a culture and put it into practice together with local partners.

DVV International’s history projects in Central Asia usually deal with at least three major themes:

  • Social work and work with the elderly;
  • Strengthening civil society, encouraging active citizenship and democratising;
  • Coming to terms with history, nation-building and the search for identity.

In all three cases, the projects are with adults.

The Central Asian history project began in 2002 when a project office opened in Tashkent (Uzbekistan), and it continues today, its focus continuously in develop ment. At first it adapted methods of contemporary witnessing work from Russia, where these methods had already been practiced using approaches adapted from Germany. Seen from a distance and at first glance, we think both regions, Russia and Central Asia, are identical or at least have a lot in common and the work should be easy, but this proves not to be the case as soon as we take a closer look. All the methods used in Uzbekistan, where activities began, had to be inter preted, rewritten and repackaged. Just renaming the idea of the “café for talking” (razgovorny café in Russian) to “teahouse for talking” (razgovornaya chaikhona in Russian and Uzbek) was one of the lesser adaptations. In Uzbekistan people drink tea! It became much more important to take into consideration mentality and ways of thinking, religion and rurality, ethnic affiliation, and levels of education. A first step in 2004 was to train native facilitators. An attempt was made here to select persons who as “cultural hybrids” were versed in both the native culture and that from where the learning approaches and methods had originated.

Earthquake in Tashkent in 1966

Earthquake in Tashkent in 1966, Source: Project Office in Tashkent

Five German organisations in 2005 first held a one-day conference in Tashkent with subsequent workshops on “History and Identity: German-Uzbek Experiences”. Each co-organiser, among them the Goethe Institute, the German Academic Ex change Service, and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung [foundation], dealt with this theme in its own way. DVV International started to organise razgovornaye chaikhony together with the Uzbek Mahalla Foundation (a mahalla is a residential district as well as a municipal self-administration unit – perhaps most comparable to a city neighbourhood with a well-functioning social infrastructure like Berlin’s Kiez). The idea here is to bring together older persons, contemporary witnesses, in a pleasant atmosphere to drink tea and eat plov, a Central Asian rice dish, and with the guidance of a facilitator trained by DVV International, encourage them to talk about their personal experiences and own history. Younger people are asked to join; they in turn pose questions to the elderly narrators that they are otherwise unaccustomed to hearing, which lends dynamics to the situation and activates a dialogue between generations. Each chaikhona deals with a special theme. Themes are selected by the participants themselves (a very important aspect!). These are often issues from daily life such as “getting married before the age of 30” or “my first teacher”, but can also include major historical events such as “our mahalla in the era of glasnost and perestroika”, throwing light on historical episodes in another, more personal way.

Issue: The Big Earthquake in Tashkent in 1966

For the second year of the project, DVV International, after discussing the idea with the Mahalla Foundation, selected a specific theme from the numerous ones discussed in the previous chaikhonas. This centred on a relatively recent event affecting the Republic of Uzbekistan, the 1966 earthquake that destroyed almost all of historic Tashkent and which was a dramatic experience for nearly all of our contemporary witnesses in their youth. The rebuilding of Tashkent as a Soviet model city, added to the systematic and area-wide destruction of the old town, permanently changed the life of its inhabitants; ancient, oriental Tashkent was gone forever.

After the first gatherings to talk about this event, participants expressed the desire to collect the often impressively related memories and publish them in a book. In 2006 and 2007, supported by our project office in St. Petersburg and the Russian organisation, Obshestvo Snanie Orjel [knowledge society of the city of Orjel in Russia], DVV International ran two training sessions designed to teach narrators to write down their stories and make them interesting for readers. It was a long and difficult process, not least because of the many control bodies that a publication in Central Asia inevitably encounters. But by mid-2008, the book, titled “The 1966 Earthquake in Tashkent: Memories Related by Contemporary Witnesses”,1 went into print. It contains the personal histories of witnesses, and also attempts to illu minate this historical episode in its entirety by including articles from seismologists, historians and well-known Uzbek figures of the time.

It is easy to see that most stories in the book try to put the tragic events into a positive light and reclaim something positive from the disaster. The story Mother’s Benevolence, by Mansura O., born in 1943 in Margilan in Ferghana Valley (Uz bekistan), ends with the words: “Unity is the greatest wisdom.”2 The author writes this as a last sentence, a moral, a final conclusion that she draws for herself from the events surrounding the earthquake. Would a German writer end his or her recollections of perhaps the greatest personally experienced tragedy this way? Would he or she talk like this at all about a disaster that cost countless lives and rendered a whole city homeless? Most likely not. Mansura is not an isolated case. Askar Obidov from the Suzuk Ota mahalla in Tashkent writes:

“The forces of nature that overtook the inhabitants of our city united the people, made us merciful, helpful, compassionate and taught us that we had to help each other. It proved that peace in the land, health and quiet are a great gift to people.”3

Striving for harmony, balance, cohesion and unity is a very well-developed aspect of Central Asian culture. Added to this are other features that can be attributed to a specifically Central Asian – in this case Uzbek – mentality. It turned out that, in comparison to German and Russian participants, the Uzbek participant was far less used to talking about his or her personal history. Coming from a collectivist society, most elderly participants tried in the first round of teahouse meetings to move from their own stories to the larger story or to depict themselves as small parts merging into a larger context. They also did this to be accepted by the group, which thought the same way and rejected an emphasis on individuality. In this regard, the fear of becoming an outsider because of the experiences related definitely played a role too. The narrator in the teahouse automatically turns the other participants into listeners, which means he steps out of the group and takes a leading position, if only for a short time. This was and still is, particularly for older, less educated Uzbeks, very hard to do and needs a long period of familiarisation guided by the specially trained facilitator. The teahouse meeting also requires something new of listeners, to learn how to listen. As mentioned earlier, negative or painful occur rences are not usually discussed in public in Uzbekistan, and it is not customary for men amongst themselves to frankly show feelings. Our participants had to be specially prepared to deal with this kind of expressiveness.

In the cafés in Russia, the dialogue between generations played a particularly important role, and this was meant to allow people of different generations to engage in dialogue to dispel reservations on both sides, avoid conflicts and learn from each other. But transferring this experience to Uzbekistan has proven to be very difficult, even today, since deeply rooted traditions and customs appear to get in the way. Here a crucial feature is the traditionally patriarchal family structure, headed by the oldest male member of the family, which does not allow for an equal exchange between the generations. Only in a few individual cases were we able to get younger people to ask questions openly and in turn get older people to listen unreservedly. Sometimes younger people were simply not allowed into the teahouse, and more often younger people didn’t even show interest in participat ing. It was also difficult getting women to participate as they rarely and only very reservedly visited the teahouses; the traditional perception of their role is also very obstructive here.

Uzbek teahouse

Uzbek teahouse, Source: DVV International

Writing down memories, whether for one of the numerous publications by the project office or simply for the contemporary witness and his or her family, was also a difficult endeavour. Composing a text is not a matter of course for our Uzbek witnesses. Many of them struggle with writing because they have a lower level of education than a Russian pensioner, for example. After the break-up of the Soviet Union, Russian became a foreign language for many, meaning they face increasing difficulties with expressing themselves in this language. But many are not proficient in written Uzbek either, which is probably due, among other things, to the fact that the language’s notation has changed four times in 100 years.4 Added to this is a basic anxiety, left over from experiences during the Soviet era, to express something personal which could be an opinion (!), and, in the case of the book of memories, set it out in writing. In general, people have become accustomed to being vague and not saying things with definition. Even 15 years after the declaration of in dependence, this habit is disappearing only very slowly from life in Uzbekistan. Added to that, Uzbek politeness forbids people from making injurious remarks to anyone; comments that are very personal are not expected, cannot be completely controlled, and are therefore better avoided. Both of these factors contribute to people largely saying and writing only what they think is expected of them and not what might be burdening their souls.

Another crucial difference here compared to the earlier project in Russia is that a line of conflict does not exist in Uzbekistan; a major focus of the Russian history project was an attempt to come to terms with the experience of World War II and find reconciliation with one-time opponents, the Germans. To this end, meetings were arranged in Russia between German and Russian war veterans. This aspect of reconciliation is hardly relevant for Uzbekistan. Of course there are former Red Army soldiers here, but this issue plays a minor role in the daily lives of Uzbeks, mostly because the territory of Uzbekistan today was spared from direct acts of war. Themes in our Uzbek teahouses are homemade and smaller. With a few exceptions, they are local or at most touch on Soviet-wide themes such as glasnost and perestroika.

History and Regional Integration – Conference and Project Week in 2008

There have been four “History and Identity” conferences held in Tashkent so far. A History and Regional Integration conference was held in 2008. This topic doesn’t immediately bring adult education to mind as it has a largely political character. But to remain successful in the region, there is a need to gain not only the cooperative will of those in power, but also the understanding and willingness of the local popu lation to live together in peace. This is where adult education comes in and makes a contribution. To pursue this intention, DVV International invited 20 older people with an interest in history to travel from all parts of Central Asia to Tashkent, where it hosted a regional teahouse meeting, a regional chaikhona, for the first time. The connecting bond for participants was their common Soviet history until 1991, and of course their interest in learning more about life in the neighbouring countries that had now become new “foreign” states. Talk at first centred on common his tory and the differences between countries in the present era, with some of these differences still a source of astonishment to many participants. At first an attempt was made to relativise, to avoid saying anything political, and to find agreement in the hope that all would be well and even better in the future, including the effort to maintain peaceful regional relations and cooperation. A sense of pure “Central Asian harmony” pervaded until quite unexpectedly, an older mahalla activist stood up and asked for the microphone. He said he wasn’t quite sure whether this was the right moment for his short speech and wondered whether he had the right to say something so personal and relate something that lay far in the past, but he felt an inner need to do so. His parents had been persecuted by Stalin. He had grown up without parents in a children’s home and been treated like a second-class person during his whole childhood. In silence, everyone waited spellbound for the speaker to continue his words, interrupted by tears, and it became clear what unspoken tragedies were in the air of this country, this region, in which children were taught not to show any feelings or say anything oppositional. What didn’t happen, what might have been expected, was that other participants would stand up to share their stories too, but no dialogue followed on what had just been said. Neverthe less, people felt an uncommon sense of genuine compassion and admiration for the talker. The well-behaved mahalla activist thanked the others for their attention, wiped some tears from his face, sat down and quietly returned to the teahouse community again. This is described here so literally to show the kind of reaction that the project can draw out, a project that appears at first glance to be so simple. The participant, as he later revealed to the author, had spoken for the first time in his life about those long-ago events of his youth.

The event staged in the Theatre of Uzbekistan’s Youth on the last day of the three-day project week met with similar success. The idea for this evening of thea tre arose entirely without outside influence at a meeting of witnesses preparing the earthquake book; DVV International’s only role was to give it support and see it through. Called “The Tashkent Earthquake on 26 April 1966 – Contemporary Witnesses Remember”, it was a dramaturgical reworking of witnesses’ stories. A showing of original film material and photos was accompanied by well-known songs of the time. This was followed by a session for open talk, which people took advantage of in a very lively and unexpectedly detailed way. Rustam Sagdullaev, an actor who many thought had already died, and who had been the leading ac tor in Tenderness, an Uzbek-Soviet film, made an appearance, igniting a process of reminiscing in the audience. They also remembered that Tenderness had never been shown in Uzbekistan.

A training course for facilitators in the history project, taught by Vanya Ivanova (DVV International in Bulgaria), introduced participants to an approach for working with history within the framework of conflict resolution and reconciliation in the the Kyrgyz Adult Education Association,8 a network of 14 centres scattered around the country, has been organising history projects since 2007. Within varying set tings, these projects have broached the issue of Stalin-era crimes. Taina Tschon Tascha [The Secret of Tasha Hill],9 a book by Kyrgyz journalist Regina Helimskaya, who uncovered the executions at Ata Beyit and first made them a public issue, is introductory reading. A future project on memorial work, mentioned above, will include working with her.

Uzbekistan: Three New Issues for the Years 2009 – 2011

Work on the issue of Stalinist repression was taken up only hesitantly by DVV International even though there is great interest in the trauma and deep hurt to the soul of the people from this episode of history. As representatives of a foreign organisation, we were afraid to go very far into uncertain territory. Even more so because the attitudes of present regimes in Central Asia regarding the Soviet past in general and the Stalin era in particular seem very unclear, if not opaque. Nevertheless, many governments and their leaders can be understood as a continuation of the past, and not just of cadre mentality. It was therefore all the more surprising to get news that cooperation with the state-run museum for history in the city of Kokand (in the Uzbek part of the Ferghana Valley) had been approved without any prob lems. Fitting in with this was the opening of the Museum of Victims of Repression10in Tashkent, which was, at the very least, a first start on coming to terms with the past. Of course it can’t be overlooked that the issue of Stalinist terror is used again and again as a political argument. Depending on the reigning political climate in Uzbekistan and whether the Soviet era is seen as “colonial oppression” or the “golden age of progress”, the issue of repression is either dealt with in diverse ways or simply hushed up.

This issue is unusually present even in the consciousness of people who no longer belong to the generation directly affected, as the example from the Tashkent regional teahouse described above shows. There are plans in Kokand to involve the last living contemporary witness in meetings with the younger generation, giving him and participants a forum for talking and working through the stories told. Initiated locally, the project itself is to be called “The Children of the Repressed of Kokand” and it will deal with the discrimination, social exclusion and stigmatisation experienced by the children and close relatives of vragi naroda, “enemies of the people”, with the intention of imparting the tragedy of these circumstances to future generations.

Conference “History and Identity”

Conference “History and Identity” Source: DVV International

Another history project planned for a three-year period from 2009 to 2011 will look at a different aspect of Uzbekistan’s Soviet past, this time not in Ferghana Valley but around the Aral Sea, which belongs to the autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan.11 Under the name “The Children of the Aral Sea” and together with its long-standing NGO partner, Golden Heritage of the Aral Sea, DVV International intends to look at the Aral Sea disaster from the point of view of contemporary witnesses, with inhabitants of Moynaq remembering when the lake’s waters flooded the city’s harbour, how the lake slowly disappeared and the time after ward – without water.

This project intends to identify how every historical event has a personal dimen sion and co-determines people’s fates. Taken altogether, hearing about personal fates turns the event into a story which ideally determines how people see things for themselves in the long term. In this way, the project is supposed to find a different perspective from the one in official history books and help people deal more consciously with the past while they are finding their own identity.

The third theme appears as rather unusual, and looks at the air crash of the Pakhtakor football team on 11 August 1979.13 Just like the 1966 earthquake in Tashkent, this plane crash and the complete loss of Tashkent’s premier team is one of the biggest and most memorable disasters in twentieth-century Uzbek history. Speculation, conjecture and conspiracy theories surrounding this calamity keep its memory alive even today. The aircraft was on its way to an away game against Dynamo Minsk and the team had a good chance of winning the Soviet champion ship. Above the Ukrainian city of Dniprodzerzhynsk, the Tupolev134a collided with another commercial aircraft also on its way to Minsk. All passengers in both aircraft died, altogether 172 people. This tragedy burned itself deeply into the collective consciousness of Uzbekistan.

All three themes will greatly expand the attractiveness of history projects since new themes and approaches speak to new target groups, especially outside the capital. At the same time, this will give experienced partners and actors the op portunity to apply the experience gained to other contexts.

Setting up a Platform with a Regional Approach for Witnesses in Central Asia

What is or could be the outlook for this history project in the longer term?

At the “History and Regional Integration” conference mentioned above, held in May 2008 at the National Mirzo Ulugbek University of Tashkent, the author put for ward to the gathering of specialists the idea of setting up an oral history network in his contribution titled “Highlighting shared experience and bridging a divide – work with contemporary witnesses as a prerequisite for a regional approach in Central Asia.”14He referred to the technical and methodical workings of eines tages (one day long ago),15 an online history platform run by Der Spiegel, the German weekly news magazine. This interactive website makes the experiences and recollections of witnesses available to a larger public. The idea is to set up a similar platform with a regional approach for witnesses in and outside of Central Asia. This could expand, with a web-based presence, the regional oral history network which is now there if we take into consideration the reach of the history projects already fostered by DVV International. In this way, work with contemporary witnesses would assist in the discovery of mutual interests and help to bridge divides – an indispensable approach for a region that, on one hand, will survive only if all work together (starting with the problem of water supply in Central Asia), and on the other hand, resists this idea because republics are completely at odds with each other. In a situation of latent conflict among nearly all states, it can only be helpful to enter into a dialogue with each other about topics thought to be apolitical and unproblematic.

Armenia / Turkey: Building Bridges for Dialogue and Understanding

The regional office of DVV International in Tashkent is involved with Central Asia as well as South Caucasus, which includes Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. DVV International runs small project offices staffed with local personnel in the capital cities of these three republics. It was always a concern of our work to urge cooperation between these two geographic areas because of the similarities in their common Soviet past and the great differences that have emerged since 1990. It is precisely the common heritage and the varying ways of dealing with it that make learning from each other so appealing.

That is why we organise meetings with representatives of different partner organisations from both regions every year, utilising a common pool of experts and trainers, and comparing notes. This is how our Armenian office and some partners in Yerevan came up with the idea of making measures for coming to terms with the past useful for Armenia. The stimulus for this emerged from our projects in Uzbekistan. But it quickly became clear that the experiences of DVV International in the Balkans, where work focuses on coming to terms with the past and reconcili ation, were particularly adaptable to the Armenian setting, since both here and there, existing conflicts are based on old controversies and a history of exploita tion. This holds particularly true for the Armenian-Turkish conflict that hinges on the interpretation and historical placement of the mass murder by Young Turks of the population of Armenian descent in what is now the Eastern Anatolian region of Turkey (1915 to 1917). Closely tied to this is the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan that led to the Nagorno-Karabakh war (1992 to 1994) and which remains unresolved to this day.16

In this context, the question arises of how far adult education can be effective, and how far this is perhaps a political conflict provoked by politicians and therefore soluble only by them at their level. But the answer is that adult education can help dismantle prejudices and stereotypes, inducing a deescalating and conciliatory effect at least at the level where the population groups concerned live together. Our project activities in the Balkans and the Russian Federation, taking a concilia tory approach, show that this can be done and achieve genuine and measurable success.

The Adult Education Days in Armenia were held in Yerevan in October of 2007. One part of this event was the “Adult Education and Intercultural Dialogue at the Crossroads of the Millennium” conference. Our project office invited a representa tive from Turkey for the first time. Professor Dogˇu Ergil from the Department of Political Behaviour at the University of Ankara gave a lecture on “Common History, Particular Identity”, which attracted great interest and animated a lively discussion in the Armenian audience. To date there is hardly any contact between these two hostile countries, so that his presence alone was already a minor sensation. This experiment – and it was nothing other than that because we could not foresee how Armenian participants would respond to the Turkish professor and his ideas – was more than successful and encouraged us in 2008 to develop our own plan for Turkish-Armenian reconciliation.

Publication about the Earthquake published by DVV International in Tashkent

 

 

 

 

Publication about the Earthquake published by DVV International in Tashkent

 

 

 

 

From 6 to 10 November 2008, a workshop called “History and Identity: Building Bridges for Dialogue and Understanding” under the direction of Vanya Ivanova was held in Yerevan with Turkish and Armenian scientists.

The idea behind this, beyond just encouraging people to meet each other, was to work out joint projects for future and continuing cooperation. Planning for the workshop incorporated the expectation that this would not necessarily be a simple venture. Unsurprisingly, talks centred on the valuation under international law of the 1915-17 murders and whether they should be categorised as genocide or not. Of course this question couldn’t be resolved at our seminar, but a common language was found, partly because single contestable aspects were deliberately excluded from the dialogue. Participants worked out four project proposals:

  1. Organising a joint summer camp for young adults from Turkey and Armenia.
  2. Putting together a history book called Sharing Common History (working title), focusing on the 20th century.
  3. Compiling a study on the reciprocal stirring up of prejudice among young adults in Turkey and Armenia.
  4. Organising a contemporary witness and interview project in Eastern Anatolia and Armenia.

Whether and how far these ideas can effectively be realised depends so far on the availability of enough funding and especially the willingness of those involved to progress with the dialogue begun at the workshop. DVV International finds its own mission within the proposal to work with witnesses – the idea has come up of combining projects 1 and 4 and organising a summer camp for young adults from both countries that would offer the experience of contemporary witness story telling and exchanging oral histories. The idea is to equip participants with a basic understanding of the methods of oral history, and work out small witnesses’ projects together that can be replicated in the participants’ home towns. An assessment of these mini-projects is supposed to follow in the next year at a second summer camp in Turkey. Here the thought is to conduct interviews with elderly citizens of Turkey and Armenia who are affected (in the widest sense) by relations between Armenia and Turkey. The findings, or better said, the stories gathered from witnesses of history, are to be collected in a small publication during the second year of the project. Ethnologists from Sabancı University in Istanbul and the National Academy of Sciences in Yerevan were found who can contribute needed input with support from DVV International’s trainers.

The Danish philosopher and theologian Søren Kirkegaard once said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”.

If DVV International, through its history projects, can help advance this understand ing and encourage people to more consciously apply it to their lives, these measures will have achieved their purpose and contributed to more successful nation-building and regional integration (not only in Central Asia).

Armenian-Turkish Workshop

 

 

 

 

 

Armenian-Turkish Workshop Source: DVV International

 

 

 

 

Notes

1 It is available free of charge from info@dvv-international.uz
2 Klingenberg, Günther, Krumm, Ryssel (eds.). 2007. Geschichte und Identität II: Usbekistan und Deutschlan dim 20. Jhdt. (History and Identity II: Uzbekistan and Germany in the 20th Century). Tashkent. p. 142.
3 Klingenberg, Günther (ed.). 2008. Taschkenter Erdbeben 1966: Erinnerungen von Zeitzeugen (The 1966 Earthquake in Tashkent: Memories Related by Contemporary Witnesses). Tashkent. p. 129.
4 At the beginning of the 20th century, the Uzbek language was written in Arabic script, then the Roman alphabet, and later in Cyrillic. After independence, usage returned to the Roman alphabet, but today Cyrillic
script is reappearing in daily use.
5 For more information, go to: www.historyproject.dvv-international.org
6 In the Kyrgyz language, this means “grave of our fathers”.
7 Chinghiz Aitmatov, who died on 10 June 2008 in Nuremberg, is buried in Ata Beyit next to his father.
8 For more information, go to: www.nst.dvv-international.uz/contacts_kaov.html
9 Helimskaya, Regina. 1994. Taina Tschon Tascha (The Secret of Tasha Hill). Bishkek.
10 See also: www.ce-review.org/02/5a/CER-museumJB.html
11 Covering 160,000 square kilometres, this constituent republic in the Uzbekistan federation is in reality hardly autonomous. The culture of ethnic Karakalpaks actually has more in common with Kazakh than Uzbek culture, particularly in language. The region suffers greatly from the drying up of the Aral Sea and consequences such as salinisation. For more information, go to: karakalpak.homestead.com or en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karakalpakstan
12 See also: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moynaq
13 See: www.ferghana.ru/article.php (in Russian).
14 Klingenberg, Matthias. 2008. “Neue internetgestützte Angebote der Zeitzeugenarbeit in Deutschland. Zum Beispiel die Onlineplattform eintages.de des Nachrichtenmagazins Der Spiegel” [New web-based opportunities for contemporary witness narration in Germany. For example, the einestages.de online platform of the newsmagazine Der Spiegel]. In: Bomsdorf, G., Hussner, Inomjonov, Klingenberg, and Lapins (eds.). Geschichte und Identität IV: Regionale Integration und Geschichte [History and Identity IV: Regional Integration and History]. Tashkent. pp. 142ff.
15 See: einestages.spiegel.de/page/Home.html
16 A cease-fire was signed on 12 May 1994. As the war progressed, troops from the Nagorno-Karabakh republic, together with the Armenian army, were able to take control over large parts of those areas claimed by Nagorno-Karabakh. Some 40,000 people died and about one million were displaced during this war and the conflicts preceding it.
17 Kierkegaard, Søren, from journals written between 1834 and 1855.

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