Central Asian Women Talking/Thinking/Writing Decolonisation

Page 1

Central Asian Women

Talking/thinking/writing Decolonisation

(Warning: it gets personal)

This zine was born out of the collaborative work of six Central Asian women engaging by various means with decolonisation. We come from different backgrounds and carry different stories but we all love Central Asia and bring it with us wherever we go. We got tired of others telling us who we are; so we thought we would write ourselves for ourselves.


Almira Tabaeva

Olga Mun

Diana Kudaibergenova

Nodira Kholmatova

Elmira Kakabayeva

Selbi Durdiyeva


Objects of dispossession, they carry king's name but erase peoples' stories. Sometimes blue. Sometimes green. Sometimes purple. What did you want to tell me with it, grandma Miriam?

I was at a drawing session where we were meant to bring an object of memory and draw it. I drew the ring using charcoal pencil, and kept on going by drawing it from different angles. When I looked at the final result, the drawing resembled skulls. I wonder if it's subconscious. The difficult past of my great grandmother came out in that drawing, who was a positive and lifeloving woman. It could well be the subconscious visited me because it was Sunday, early morning and I am not a morning person. It was also in the Museum of Freud, we sat next to Anna Freud's room. I think this ring gives me strength. Decolonisation is not about getting the skeletons out of the closet because, perhaps, they were not even hidden in the closet. It’s about justice.

I took Freud with me to Central Asia. He became a Ýaşuly

As a child in Ashgabat, you had to go say 'hello' to the elderly men. I was impressed by them. They had white beards. That's why they were called 'aksakal', which means a 'white beard.' Freud had a white beard too, he could've been an aksakal, so I took him and made him travel to Central Asia. He'd probably say that we aren't melancholic, we just mourne (still?). He wouldn't say we are neurotic, or narcissistic, nor obsessive, not psychotic. We have no mother, no father, no Oedipus, we just need to reinvent ourselves on our own.

Colonisation results in a mental illness, first and foremost of the coloniser, who still, many decades on cannot let go off the grip. We let it go even if the colonisers do not want us to. The past is in the past, Elsa said.

Decolonising the Womb

Decolonization for me is understanding myself with all the complexities of family history and my contemporary life.

This focus requires time and resources that I don’t want to waste on anything else. It helps me to be self-aware and make more conscious choices. It allows me to be myself with a sense of dignity and respect for the spaces and times I came from and the spaces and times I am heading to.

Decolonizing our perspectives today and always

Decolonization, for me, is a personal, political, and professional voyage with no specific destination. It’s about…


Decolonization is an all-encompassing process

From the symbols and ornaments that are embedded in the regional culture, not just national

From “national” meals and “hospitality” culture shared by the region in the same eye of the foreigners

From the censuses that striped political representation and voice ancient ethnic populations and languages

From the memory of our grandparents and parents of the life of their own ancestors


Decolonization is about longing for a homeland and its nature, to the extent of tattooing mountains and raising the sun above them on your skin, and at the same, being conscious and critical about not romanticizing the history of generational traumas and inequalities, social habits, and practices that can only be decoded/cracked by engaging with origins and the roots of knowledge production that shape the identities and belonging.

Positionality and Self-reflexivity

Raises the questions of our history of existence, the traumas that long for healing, and the future that depends on answers and actions that we develop in interacting with each other.

Decolonization is realizing that we read booksand theories written in the colonial language before we discover the depth and origins of our native language. You start exploring the voices of suppressed and exiled thinkers and heroes who were fighting long before you across the colonized world.

“Then there are times when personal experience keeps us from reaching the mountaintop and so we let it go because the weight of it is too heavy. And sometimes the mountaintop is difficult to reach with all our resources, factual and confessional, so we are just there collectivelygrasping, feeling the limitations of knowledge, longing together, yearning for a way to reach that highest point. Even this yearning is a way to know.” (hooks1994, 92)

Healing and Love

You join the struggle against the global and local forms of coloniality.

Decolonization is individual and social at the same time

Decolonization is all these and more, and now it’s your turn to define…

duhtare, ki orzu dosht pisar bud. Zan. Zindagi. Ozodi."

Why are there no Central Asian academics who are actually from Central Asia in Oxford University?

Central Asian Joy(s)over liberation Liberation over decolonisation Decolonial multiculturualism

I want to live in healthy Central Asia

I am tired...

-of people telling me that my traumas don’t matter -that stalin was a “great guy” who did “great deeds” like killing off thousands of people, violently deporting them like cattle away from their Homelands to the places colonizers considered “the middle of nowhere” and the places my ancestors considered the centre of the world.

-of “experts” telling me that “you got colonialism wrong, the Soviet Union was a great liberator”, then why generations of my family members in Central Asia never felt liberated but instead feared for their lives? why my grandmother was denied education and good jobs since she was the daughter of “the enemy of state”?

-of people telling me that history (read colonialism) required big sacrifices. My land dispossession, my people’s separation from their culture and way of living, their forceful colonization was a “sacrifice”? But for what?

-of people telling me how Moscow elites brought us “culture”. I don’t need your fake opera, the simulacrum of someone else’s culture, give me back what you stole, hanged in your colonial museums like a dangling “indigenous toy” or destroyed.

-of the fear that the colonial expansionist wars will soon come back to my Homeland. You didn’t take enough last time, so here goes “russian empire 3.0”

-of all the arguments people have to defend colonialism by calling it “civilisation”...

Gulag. Forever Exile. Death are NOT synonyms of colonialism haha aforgetyourancestors.youdon’thave placetomournthemintheempire

‘civilisation’ Colonizer brought the famine colonizer destroyedourcivilization p r o g r e s s , S o v i e t c u l t u r e , a n e m pi r e ! w h a t o t h e r b s d i d t h e y f e e d y o u ?


Your trauma doesn’t matter

Your trauma doesn’t matte

Your trauma doesn’t matt

ooperahouse perahouse BUT theybuilttheopershouse! I t w a s a g o o d e m p i r e

Your trauma doesn’t mat

Your trauma doesn’t...

find healing find your Central Asia decolonial writing out of trauma

find peace

Colonizer brought

How Wikipedia defines what zine is:

‘A zine is a small-circulation selfpublished work of original or appropriated texts and images, usually reproduced via a copy machine.’

We agree.

Produced collaboratively.

Almira Tabaeva

Olga Mun

Diana Kudaibergenova

Nodira Kholmatova

Elmira Kakabayeva

Selbi Durdiyeva ©2024

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.