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Community resilience and social capital in Kyrgyzstan 

Pierobon, Chiara. “Community resilience and social capital in post-Soviet mono-industrial areas affected by the uranium legacy and radiation: evidence from Kyrgyzstan”  [with Zarina Adambussinova], In: Korosteleva, E. and Petrova, I. (eds.) Resilient Communities of Central Eurasia. Responding to Change, Complexity and the Visions of ‘The Good Life’, Routledge, 2023, DOI: 10.4324/9781003299998-9

Throughout the entire Soviet era, the Central Asian region served as the main supplier of various mineral materials (including uranium and rare-earth metals) for the ambitious, Party-led political, military, economic, and social projects. The extensive mining and processing of radioactive ores resulted in a vast number of high-risk tailing dumps and other types of legacy sites across the region, thereby posing serious risks to public health and the environment. Our study focuses on a case in contemporary Kyrgyzstan to assess community resilience in formerly mono-industrial urban areas affected by uranium legacy and radiation. The paper is based on an extensive review of the literature related to the concepts of community resilience and its relationship to social capital, and field research conducted in three post-Soviet monotowns: Ak-Tuz, Kadji-Sai and Orlovka. Using these data, we present empirical findings that will help explain what resilience means for the local communities and how it can be assessed within the context of the post-Soviet transition. Our study reveals some important findings about what makes some communities stronger than others, and what could enable more effective, sustainable interventions to support them further taking into account local settings and social assets.