Community, the State and Development Assistance: Transforming the Mahalla in Tajikistan


Anna Cieślewska
Uniwersytet Jagielloński


civil society, local development, traditional institutions, international aid, local administration


For centuries, the mahalla as a quarter within cities and villages, regulated the life of sedentary communities maintaining relative autonomy at the grass-root level. During the Soviet period, the mahalla underwent transformation, nevertheless, its practices and traditions still shaped local relationships. The rapid changes after the collapse of the USSR also affected the mahalla, which has been included into the legislative framework of Tajikistan, and since 2008 has become the smallest administrative unit, partly losing its traditional functions. In the meantime, the mahalla have also become popular as an indigenous form of communal organisation among the Western aid agencies operating in the region.

The book Community, the State and Development Assistance: Transforming the Mahalla in Tajikistan by Anna Cieślewska, is a critical analysis of the various interactions between state administration, international organizations and the mahalla in the context of the social and economic changes in contemporary Tajikistan. The author provides examples from field research and development projects conducted between 2010 and 2014.



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Author Biography

Anna Cieślewska, Uniwersytet Jagielloński

PhD, is a researcher at the Department of Iranian Studies, Institute of Oriental Studies at the Jagiellonian University and cooperates with the Polish Center for International Aid. She wrote her doctoral thesis at the Institute of Applied Social Sciences, University of Warsaw. She graduated from the University of Warsaw’s School of Cross-culture Relations with an MA degree, and earned an MSc degree in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London (MSc), as well as completing the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. As a result of her interest in Central Asian socio-economic development issues and the geopolitics of Central Asia, as well as in Islam and local traditions in the post-Soviet region, she has spent the last nine years working on various research and development projects in the CIS region.


September 16, 2015

Details about the available publication format: PDF


ISBN-13 (15)