The PhD Summer School was embedded in the research and network project Fluid mobilities for cities in transformation: spatial dynamics of marshrutkas in Central Asia and the Caucasus (Marshrutka Project). Within the scope of the project, we wanted to gain insights into transformation processes through the lens of changing mobility practices. The summer school was designed to encourage transnational interdisciplinary discussions, and provide high-impact feedback and networking opportunities for its participants.

The Summer School was hosted and organised by the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography (IfL) in Leipzig, Germany, and the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. After a day of internal organisational updates for Marshrutka Project members, the summer school set off with a panel discussion on the question of whether the post-socialist framework was and still is a valid tool for research (link to panel discussion announcement). Apart from the summer school participants – five project PhDs, supervisors, keynote speakers and ten external PhD participants – twenty more visitors came to the AUCA campus and joined the debate. The following day, the group, took off to the summer school venue at the Aurora Resort at Lake Issyk Kul for an intense four-days programme.

 

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The whole Summer School Team

„I attended the Space, Mobility and Transformation Summer School organized by the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography (IfL) and the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) in Kyrgyzstan, and it was one of the most remarkable experiences of my academic career. The school not only brought together promising early career academics in the beautiful scenery of Lake Issyk-Kul, it also prompted them to discuss the old and emerging orthodoxies within the field of migration and mobility studies. The summer school was a wonderful opportunity for PhD students to present their work, and I think I had the most of it by taking part in a scholarly exchange that critically engaged with the ways post-socialist spaces are constituted ethnographically and theoretically in social sciences. In many ways the summer school resulted in a network of friends and colleagues, and this is why I will be always truly indebted to organizers.“

                                                         Salim Aykut Öztürk, external PhD participant, University College London.

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Internal project meeting with PhDs and Supervisors at the AUCA

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Panel Discussion “Are our cities still post-socialist?” with Joseph Salukvadze, Oksana Zaporozhets, Wladimir Sgibnev (moderator), Sebastian Lentz and Georgy Mamedov

„As part of The Marshrutka Project: Mobilities for cities in transformation, the summer school brought together PhD students and early career research scholars and academics from all over the world. The scholars who attended the summer school cut across disciplines, traditions of scholarships, and in their research interests and themes. The summer school, the predominant thematic concern of which was spatial practices and mobility in the transformatory practices in contemporary cities came up with various approaches to study these categories. Since, one of the main objective and orientation of the summer school was the study of post-socialist cities it made possible for the studies of mobility to break away from the European-American trajectory of the subject. This did not mean discarding or being confrontationist to the vast existing body of European-American literature, but bringing them in a dialogue with the vibrant new methods of doing research in post-socialist conditions breaking new grounds in terms of methods, collection and analysis of empirical data, and theory-making. The summer school also successfully brought a dialogue between post-socialist and postcolonial conditions opening up the possibility for exploration of new theoretical and empirical studies. In a sense the school made it possible to inquire the question of mobility and space at the interface of these three conditions. The immense potential of this needs to be recognized because this has made possible the study of global capital and neoliberal developments both at the macro as well as the micro level. This also means that these studies can at once traverse several spaces of nation-states as well as rising transnational spaces. It is only to be hoped that this could be taken up by the participants.

The summer school was spread across five days which included key note presentations by senior scholars, presentations by PhD candidates and early career scholars, and informal meetings and exchange of ideas. The sheer breadth and depth of studies presented gave occasion to some animated debates. In the nearly ten papers presented, the concerns ranged from studies of free economic zones, borders of Armenia and Turkey, mobility of sexuality, study of minorities and so on. Clearly, mobility was studied both as method as well as the object of research. The comments provided by senior scholars who were discussants during these presentations enriched the study and possibly provided indications for future research.

The success of any summer school is measured as much by the academic atmosphere as it is by the collegiality in which it is conducted. In these terms the summer school was a great success. It gave possibilities of future collaborations between researchers and during the informal exchanges several ideas were floated on this line of thinking. It is to be hoped that some of these ideas do come to fruition and there is continuous academic engagement amongst the participants.

It was also a measure of success in which this summer school was organised both in its efficiency and care. Any mention of this summer school without its two principal organisers, Lela Rekhviashvili and Wladimir Sgibnev will be incomplete.“

Mitilesh Kumar, external PhD participant, University of Western Sydney

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Collective boat trip to the middle of Issyk Kul Lake

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Method meeting of our PhD candidate Tonio Weicker and his Supervisor Oksana Zaporozhets

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Goodby meeting of the Summer School team at the Brezhnev Museum

 

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