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Central Asia: “Cyber Chaikhana,” Book Written by Bloggers

Categories: Central Asia & Caucasus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Arts & Culture, Literature, Media & Journalism

“Cyber Chaikhana” is a book project about Central Asian bloggers and their perceptions of their region, culture and everyday life. Edited by Christopher Schwartz [1] and published by HIVOS, the book is a collection of narratives written by the bloggers at NewEurasia.net [2], the Central Asian blogging network.

The aim of the project is to reach out to both the Central Asian (Russian speaking) and global audiences; both Russian and English language versions of the book will be published.

The name of the book, chaikhana, means “a teahouse.” Christopher Schwartz explains [3] the philosophy of the title and the book:

Cyber Chaikhana, at Bar Camp Central Asia, photo by Alexey Sidorenko [4]

Cyber Chaikhana, at Bar Camp Central Asia, photo by Alexey Sidorenko

As you all know from experience, the teahouse is a centre of community life in Central Asia. In the teahouse, all subjects, from politics to religion to backgammon strategy to the fashion sense of a local politician, are energetically discussed over cups of hot sugar tea.In NewEurasia’s “cyber chaihkana” our webloggers come together over keyboards rather than tea, but the results are greater in scale: whereas the traditional chaikhana is local, the Internet is a teahouse encompassing the region.

The Russian version of Cyber Chaikhana was presented at the BarCamp Central Asia 2011 [5], an Almaty-based IT event. In a short interview with Global Voices, Christopher Schwartz explains why bloggers’ voices are important in discovering the region, and how online speech can combat orientalism [6]: