In this podcast, I speak with Regine A. Spector, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, about her book, Order at the Bazaar: Power and Trade in Central Asia, from Cornell University Press.
Bazaars, including those in Central Asia, are often treated as sites of chaos – emblematic of the failure to develop rule of law institutions and in need of state intervention to bring order. In her book, Spector uses extensive interviews and research – focusing on the Dordoi and Osh bazaars in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan – to document how the people who work in bazaars, and some owners of bazaars, have created islands of order. To do so, they draw on Soviet and pre-Soviet traditions to adapt to the disruptive transition from the Soviet system to capitalism. Order at the Bazaar offers a ground-up view on how citizens build order for themselves, and provides a critique of external approaches to institution-building.