Kinga Szálkai (Budapest, Hungary)
The Effect of Water Systems on Central Asian Societies
(57th Annual Meeting of the PIAC Vladivostok, 2014)
The establishment and maintenance of irrigation systems and other forms of water management require a comprehensive coordination over a significant mass of people, which is acquirable through an extensive bureaucracy and a centralized government system. Beside the Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and China, Central Asia has been a region where water systems and the related technologies always played a great role in the life of the societies. Under the dry continental and semi-desert climate of Central Asia, rivers, irrigation systems and the means of water management considerably contributed to the structuring of societies, dividing certain layers depending on their relations to water and water management systems.
In my presentation, I intend to introduce the process of water-based society-building in Central Asia. I begin my analysis from the era of nomadic tribes and oasis cities, then I follow with the investigation into the decades under Tsarist rule. After that, I deal with the Soviet central management over Central Asian waters, which created a division of labour not only among certain layers of societies, but also among certain socialist republics in the region. At last but not least, I move to the recent developments on the water-society nexus in Central Asia, and study the present era, when water questions form an important part of nation- and state-building processes.