I’m Caitlin M. Ryan, a PhD candidate in the geography department. Before coming to CU, I spent six years working in civil society development and policy/advocacy-related research in the South Caucasus. While at CU, I moved on to study Central Asia. My dissertation investigates processes of urban transformation in the post-conflict city of Osh, which is in southern Kyrgyzstan.
I'm interested in using mobile and participatory research methods, and in thinking about what urban identities mean for today's highly mobile Central Asian population. This is especially interesting in places that are not considered at the forefront of urban development today, in the "ordinary" and "less-than-ordinary" cities of the world that don't often attract much attention. In Osh, there have been two episodes of violent conflict between the city's Kyrgyz and Uzbek residents. While many analysts focus on ethnicity as the main cause of conflict, I argue that focusing instead on processes of urban development, migration, and economic transformation are more useful ways of looking at the conflict dynamics and thinking about the factors that might contribute to a more peaceful world.
I came to CU because of the inspiring work that faculty in the geography department was doing at the time. I was interested in the department's focus on critical development studies and humanitarianism. But what really kept me here is that there are so many other areas of expertise that I hadn't been aware of, including feminist theory and methodological approaches, as well as urban studies and cultural geography. All of these are now influencing my dissertation.