Zarina Urmanbetova




Doktorandin, Department für Sozialwissenschaften

I am a sociocultural anthropologist from the Kyrgyz Republic. I hold an MA in Cultural Anthropology from Hacettepe University in Ankara and a BA in Media studies from the Kyrgyz-Turkish Manas University in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. 

After completing my studies, I worked as a researcher on various projects by UN Women Kyrgyzstan, the public foundation Urban Initiatives, the Research Institute of Islamic Studies in Bishkek, and the Analytical Center Polis Asia.

I am a doctoral researcher in the team project “ROADWORK: An Anthropology of Infrastructure at China’s Inner Asian Borders,” funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (2018-2022) and directed by Prof. Agnieszka Joniak-Lüthi. In my study, I focus on the social life of roads in central Kyrgyzstan, where I conducted eleven months of ethnographic fieldwork in 2019-2021. 

Research interests: anthropology of infrastructure, multimedia storytelling, poetry, feminism, memory and nostalgia, beliefs and religious practices, and decolonial approaches.

Research area: Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia, Turkey

Student supervision:

I am happy to supervise BA theses and seminar papers on topics such as Islam, gender, urban and memory studies, and the anthropology of infrastructure in the context of Central Asia. Further, I offer advice on qualitative research methods and the MAXQDA program for data analysis. 

Forschung und Publikationen

  • Publikationen

    Joniak-Lüthi, Agnieszka, Alessandro Rippa, Jessica Clendenning, Jessica DiCarlo, Matthew S. Erie, Max Hirsh, Hasan H. Karrar, Verena La Mela, Juliet Lu, Till Mostowlansky, Galen Murton, Huiying Ng, Roger Norum, Tim Oakes, Nadine Plachta, Björn Reichhardt, Jasnea Sarma, Emilia Sulek, Dorothy Tang, Zarina Urmanbetova and Thomas White. 2022. Demystifying the Belt and Road Initiative. Fribourg, Munich and Boulder. Available at: Demystifying the Belt and Road Initiative

    Urmanbetova, Z and A. Joniak-Lüthi. 2021. “Welcome and unwelcome connections: travelling post-Soviet roads in Kyrgyzstan”, Central Asian Survey, DOI:10.1080/02634937.2021.1968346

    Urmanbetova, Zarina (ed.). 2020. Special issue “Dreams of Mankurt.” Nemomomif – An interdisciplinary journal of research and observations on Central Asia with an attempt at decolonial option 2.

    Urmanbetova, Zarina. 2020. “Infrastructure in Central Asia through the prism of anthropology: Unexplored consequences of new projects.” Interview with Prof. Agnieszka Joniak-Lüthi. Central Asian Analytical Network (in Russian).

    Nasretdinov, E., Z. Urmanbetova, K. Murzakhalilov, and M. Myrzabaev. 2019. “Vulnerability and Resilience of Young People in Kyrgyzstan to Radicalization, Violence and Extremism: Analysis across Five Domains.” Central Asia Program Paper no 213. Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, George Washington University.

    Urmanbetova, Zarina (ed.). 2018. Special issue “Languages of Memory.” Nemonomif: An interdisciplinary journal of research and observations on Central Asia with an attempt at decolonial option 1.

    Urmanbetova, Zarina. 2017. “Activism in the Name of the Forgotten City: The Case of Local Activists – Shaarmans in Kyrgyz cities.” In Reimagining Civil Societies: Collection of articles on civil society in a time of change. Bishkek: the American University of Central Asia, Sociology Department. Pp. 61-75.

    Kanybek kyzy, Dinara, Zarina Urmanbetova, Samyibek uulu Atai, and Anarbayeva Saltanat. 2017. “Города Кыргызстана через призму горосдкого исследования” [Kyrgyz towns through the lens of urban research]. Popular Science Magazine Municipalitet 4 (65): 4-18.

    Urmanbetova, Zarina. 2017. “Шаарманы [Shaarman: urban heroes of Kyrgyz towns].” Popular Science Magazine Municipalitet4 (65): 20-32.

    Urmanbetova, Zarina. 2016. “Women’s Rites of Passages Observed During the Wedding Rituals among Van Kyrgyz Community.” In: Conference Proceedings of the 3rd Congress of Ethnologists and Anthropologists of Kyrgyzstan Vol. 3 Issue 1. Osh: Osh State University Press. Pp. 281-285.

    United Nations research reports:

    “Pillar Research Report: Women’s Religious Beliefs and Practices.” UN Women Kyrgyzstan. 2017.

    “Professional and Marriage Choices of Youth in Kyrgyzstan.” Youth Research Team, UN Women Kyrgyzstan. 2016.