Stories Not Told, News Not Reported
Coverage of Transborder Issues and Events in the Ferghana Valley of Central Asia
The Ferghana Valley is the most politically and diplomatically volatile area in formerly Soviet Central Asia. More than merely a geographic convergence of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, it is a region where official borders disregard centuries of cultural and ethnic patterns of employment, trade, migration, kinship, and agriculture. Borders are porous and often unmarked, and some villages are “checkerboards of nationalities, with adjacent houses in different countries,” (Trilling, 2009). The Ferghana Valley, one expert observed, is the ‘strategic center of gravity’ of Central Asia – owing to its central geographic location, extremely fertile soil, dense population, strong religious influence, persistent instability, and lack of effective control by central authorities” (Donnelly, 2012: 8). News reports label it a “valley of contention,” “tinderbox for violence,” and a “zone of potential conflicts” where the strongest loyalties belong to family, ethnic
group, and community – neither to the state nor to the regimes that govern from the distant capitals: Tashkent, Bishkek, and Dushanbe.