This paper questions a widespread narrative that presents cooperative initiatives as mainly unsuccessful in postsocialist contexts. Taking the example of cooperative promotion in Kyrgyzstan after its independence from the Soviet Union, it highlights how this narrative is part of a broader hegemonic discourse on development and on the economy. The paper advances an alternative, postcapitalist, reading of cooperatives and cooperation in Kyrgyzstan and postsocialist contexts more in general.
My doctoral thesis investigates cooperation practices within and beyond agricultural cooperatives. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in a village in Kyrgyzstan, it unravels local and international discourses of nostalgia, contempt and pride linked to cooperation practices in socialist and postsocialist times, and reflect on the subjectivities entangled with these discourses. It thereby proposes a postcapitalist reading of postsocialism as a concept and space.
This paper brings together two streams of literature which rarely enter into conversation: diverse economies scholarship and critical readings of postsocialism. Mobilising the cases of food self-provisioning (FSP) in Czechia and agricultural cooperatives in Kyrgyzstan as an empirical basis for our reflections, we pursue a two-fold aim. Firstly, we call for attention to the postsocialist East as fertile ground for the study of diverse economies.