idw – Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Nachrichten, Termine, Experten

Grafik: idw-Logo
Science Video Project

idw-News App:


Google Play Store

13.04.2023 10:52

Actors of Influence – Female Islamic Activism in Kyrgyzstan

Lena Herzog Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO)
Geisteswissenschaftliche Zentren Berlin e.V. (GWZ)

    From charity work to fashion, online and offline: In Kyrgyzstan, Islamic organisations and Islamic activism – and especially that of women – have become increasingly important in recent years. An analysis by Aksana Ismailbekova shows the influence of women actors on society and how their activities can be contextualised.

    The role of Islam in Central Asia is still viewed through a limited number of analytical and interpretive schemes, argues Ismailbekova in her article published last week in Zentralasienanalysen. Often, a security perspective is used that describes Islamisation as a threat to the stability of the region. Furthermore, Islam is often interpreted as a challenge to liberal thought, which questions freedoms and rights of women, for example. As another perspective, scholars interpret Muslim activism in Central Asia as a component of regional identity politics, in which civil society associations serve as a substitute for the state organisations that dominated in the Soviet Union.

    Ismailbekova adds another perspective to these three: social impact. She focuses on women's networks and associations and analyses how women actors shape and change Kyrgyz society through their beliefs and practices. In doing so, she takes a look at the activities of women who offer both online and offline services on topics such as raising children, gender equality or mental health. But there are also business development initiatives that help single or widowed women find work. An increasingly important role is played by social media, through which Islamic women influencers and bloggers appeal to young people in particular.

    The activists' main concern is a positive presentation of their faith. With their activities, they want to convey a modern vision of Islam that is characterised by progressiveness, a contemporary style and a humanitarian orientation. Many of the activists and bloggers therefore also advocate tolerance towards people of other faiths and often cause a stir within their religious communities with their efforts to give women more space within them. Ismailbekova notes that Islamic activists have established themselves in Kyrgyz society and, especially through their media reach, are effective in challenging socially and culturally determined norms. She therefore also recommends that Islam should always be considered for cooperation between international actors with local partners across different thematic areas due to its position in the country's civil society.

    Ismailbekova's article was written as part of a larger study by Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) in cooperation with the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) in Maastricht and eight researchers from Central Asia. The aim of the study was to improve the general understanding of the character of Islamic activism in four Central Asian countries (Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan) and to identify possible risks. The results show that Islamism and Islamic activism have become a central phenomenon in the post-Soviet religious landscape of the region. Contrary to the common perception among many policymakers and the public that Islamisation and Islamism pose a threat to the region, the activism can also be seen in a different light. For example, it plays an increasingly important role in the provision of public goods and services that are not provided by the state.

    Aksana Ismailbekova is an anthropologist and research fellow at Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin. Her current research focuses on future building in Central Asia in the areas of intergenerational cooperation, infrastructure and translocal mobilities.

    Please send requests for interviews to Lena Herzog:

    Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

    Dr. Aksana Ismailbekova:


    Aksana Ismailbekova: Jenseits religiöser Retraditionalisierung. Islamischer Aktivismus von Frauen als Element postsozialistischer Zivilgesellschaft in Kirgistan. In Zentralasien-Analysen No. 157, 05.04.2023, p. 6–10. DOI: 10.31205/ZA.157.02.

    Weitere Informationen: CV Aksana Ismailbekova


    Merkmale dieser Pressemitteilung:
    Journalisten, Studierende, Wissenschaftler
    Gesellschaft, Kulturwissenschaften, Religion
    Forschungsergebnisse, Wissenschaftliche Publikationen



    Die Suche / Erweiterte Suche im idw-Archiv

    Sie können Suchbegriffe mit und, oder und / oder nicht verknüpfen, z. B. Philo nicht logie.


    Verknüpfungen können Sie mit Klammern voneinander trennen, z. B. (Philo nicht logie) oder (Psycho und logie).


    Zusammenhängende Worte werden als Wortgruppe gesucht, wenn Sie sie in Anführungsstriche setzen, z. B. „Bundesrepublik Deutschland“.


    Die Erweiterte Suche können Sie auch nutzen, ohne Suchbegriffe einzugeben. Sie orientiert sich dann an den Kriterien, die Sie ausgewählt haben (z. B. nach dem Land oder dem Sachgebiet).

    Haben Sie in einer Kategorie kein Kriterium ausgewählt, wird die gesamte Kategorie durchsucht (z.B. alle Sachgebiete oder alle Länder).