Relations of Debt and Credit Networks in Post-Soviet Uzbekistan, Russia and Kazakhstan


  • Rano Turaeva Ludwig Maximillian University
  • Zarina Adambussinova American University of Central Asia



debt-based trade,, debt notebooks,, post-Soviet Central Asia, trust


Any relations and practices of debt within credit networks include not only pure economic exchange, such as barter or non-monetary exchange, but diverse kinds of social relations of debt. In this article, we consider case studies embedded in the particular context of early and late post-Soviet economic and political crisis, in which economic informalization was characterised by ‘wild capitalism’ or the absence of cash and livelihoods. We observe the coping strategies and mechanisms of economic survival adopted by ordinary people in response to these crises and to the absence of state social and economic institutions. We portray people’s concrete experiences of debt, solidary social relations, and economic exchange based on debt relationships in post-Soviet economies. The case studies are drawn from ethnographic material from Uzbekistan, Russia and Kazakhstan. Our case studies reveal that debt relations are not about two individuals who owe money but serve as the basis for debt-based trade, survival, and socializing networks, as well as part of moral economies. The article builds on scholarly works related to informal economies and survival mechanisms in post-Soviet space, to anthropology of debt, as well as discussion of (dis)trust.



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