Is there an Islamic Public Administration Legacy in Post-Soviet Central Asia? An Ethnographic Study of Everyday Mahalla Life in Rural Ferghana, Uzbekistan

Rustamjon Urinboyev

Abstract


This paper examines the role of mahalla as a “hybrid” institution in the process of revamping public administration in post-Soviet Uzbekistan. It argues that the mahalla system, which is anchored on Islamic principles, has now become an institutionalized feature of Uzbekistan’s public administration (through legislative codification and executive incorporation) and now operates partly on behalf of the state and partly community-driven as a local-level provider of social welfare and, increasingly, as the [state] mechanism of social control. Also this paper aims to illuminate the processes and dynamics of the mahalla system and how it has evolved to respond to the changing political regime in the post-Soviet period, acting as a pseudo localgovernment entity, given the failure of the existing regime to provide much-needed development in rural Uzbekistan.

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