Foreigners

Thursday, May 20, 2010
Qiakeertu

– this morning, a walking tour of the city with Dr. Z, though it is curtailed by rainy weather. As we make our way back to the hotel, we are waived down by a policewoman and an older man (both Kazakh). Dr. Z is dismayed but not surprised and we make our way to the police station to register as foreign visitors. In the office Dr. Z admonishes the policewoman and a policeman for how we, as guests, are being treated, and appeals to their Kazakh tradition of hospitality. We are there for approximately 45 minutes
– I can see and hear the school from the balcony at our hotel (combined primary and secondary grades)
– HW 216 runs through the town
– rural, much different from Jimusaer, smaller tax base, mostly Kazakh here
– most people travel on foot or by motorcycle, but there are also cars and trucks
– we stand out immediately as foreigners
– small stores and restaurants
– the two paved roads that transect 216 end abruptly, terminating in dirt roads that lead into villages and agricultural land
– men standing and chatting on the street and on street corners
– women sit side saddle on the backs of motorcycles, though I do see one or two riding their own
– my assignment is to make a map of the town

Friday, May 21, 2010
Qiakeertu

– interviews at half-settlement/village of Karabulgan, just outside of Qiakeertu
– informal interview with an old man who was looking after his grandsons
– Interview #1 with two men and two women who look to be in their sixties or seventies (not recorded)…women readily spoke over the men (no special deference in this regard), interjected at will, major issue is land and deeds to land are being taken away from them, they eventually allow us to photograph a document as long as we obscure their name – Dr. Z emphasizes that we are ethically bound to respect the preference of those whom we interview, esp. whether to be video or audio recorded…after the interview we sit and join them for milk tea, the women are perplexed by me, they think I look Kazakh and ask why I don’t speak Kazakh
– Interview #2 with a man in his seventies or eighties, very animated, self-deprecating, made a lot of jokes, said he knew nothing (“I have no words”)
– Interview #3 with a middle aged man (maybe in his fifties), we waited as he completed afternoon prayers before the interview
– since I don’t understand the language, I am forced to pay attention to the rhythm of speech, non-verbal communication (without staring), and the material culture in the households where we are in
– my assignment is to take pictures of Karabulgan
– dinner w/ Shalkar’s relatives who live nearby, we stay for approximately 3 hours. Omar and Chalkhar are a little reluctant to go back to Qiakeertu and I find out that they have been asked to go to the police station

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