"Poor Religious Understanding": Peacebuilding, Secular Islam, and Approaches to Countering VIolent Extremism in Kyrgyzstan
Faubion, James D
Doctor of Philosophy
This dissertation considers the intersections of Islam and secularism in the post-Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan, as well as how international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have worked to promote peace and counter violent extremism in the country. By introducing two intertwined concepts – Islamic secularism and secular Islam – the author describes the spaces where state policy, development goals, individual freedoms, and religious practice meet. Through analysis of interviews with friends and associates of some Kyrgyzstani nationals who became foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, the dissertation also identifies certain contextual push factors for violence. Ultimately, using Saba Mahmood's critique, this dissertation rejects the liberal motive of promoting secularism within Islam for civilizing purposes, in favor of six concrete considerations for practically countering violent extremism in the Kyrgyzstani context.