Irrigation, Cotton-Growing, and the Environment in Central Asia, 19th-21st Centuries

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11:30 am
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Dr. Julia Obertreis, Friedrich-Alexander Universität, Erlangen-Nürnberg

Studying water infrastructure is an excellent entry point to examine the nexus between the utilization of natural resources and technologies on the one hand, and of politics and everyday life on the other. The talk will first address important findings of a study on irrigation systems and cotton cultivation in Central Asia. Here, the Russian colonizers of the nineteenth century implemented ideas of modernity and transformation that lived on in the Soviet context. Second, the talk presents the outlines of an ongoing project on water on public display, comparing the relevance of artificial lakes, fountains, and drinking wells in cities like Berlin and Tashkent. Both cases combine cultural studies‘ approaches with the history of infrastructure and technology.
Julia Obertreis is Professor for Eastern European modern history at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany. In her teaching and research, she focuses on water infrastructures in the Soviet Union in a global perspective. She has an interest in the Soviet Union as a multiethnic empire and in oral history as a critical method in Eastern European history. Her first book is Living in Leningrad Between Everyday Life and Utopia, 1917-1937 (Böhlau Verlag, 2004). Her second book is titled Imperial Desert Dreams. Cotton Growing and Irrigation in Central Asia, 1860–1991.


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