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Hashish as cash in a post-Soviet Kyrgyz village

Botoeva, Gulzat (2014) 'Hashish as cash in a post-Soviet Kyrgyz village.' International Journal of Drug Policy, 25 (6). pp. 1227-1234. ISSN 0955-3959

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Abstract

Background This paper discusses how hashish produced by the local population of Tyup, Kyrgyzstan became an important source of cash in an agricultural semi-subsistence economy. Methods The paper is based on a research study conducted between 2009 and 2010 that adopted a mixed-method approach to data collection. I gathered 64 semi-structured interviews, 147 structured interviews and made ethnographic observations of the livelihoods of the people of Toolu village in Tyup region. Results The local population of the region became involved in hashish production due to a cash deficit in both the agricultural economy and wider society from the beginning of the 1990s. Privatization of land as a consequence of the neoliberalization of the economy left many families with small share lands which are insufficient to provide market surplus. Agricultural products, therefore, are mainly consumed by the majority of farmers, turning the economy of the region into a semi-subsistence agricultural economy. In the context of such a cash deficit economy, wild-growing cannabis plants are used not only as a cash crop but are symbolically turned into a form of cash and a source of informal credit. People can pay for goods with hashish as well as obtain advance payments and credits for it. I argue that hashish making assists the agricultural rural economy by allowing people to obtain goods, advance payments and credits to use for the cultivation of land, their everyday needs and maintaining social relationships. I also argue that many local farmers, who do not consider themselves as criminals, were able to become involved in this activity by shifting the meaning of hashish and hashish making from an illegal activity to a culturally valued and justifiable form of economic activity. Conclusion This allows me to show that the local drug economy in Tyup serves as a lens through which to examine the strategies through which illegal and illicit drug production becomes culturally acceptable. Understanding of hashish production in this local context of the semi-subsistence agricultural economy operating in a constant deficit of cash provides rich data for effective evidence-based policy.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Hashish, Drug production, Cash crop, Cash deficit economy, Gift exchange, Drug supply, Kyrgyzstan
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2015 06:35
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2015 06:35
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/14113

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