Multiple narratives of il/legality and im/morality: The case of small-scale hashish harvesting in Kyrgyzstan

Gulzat Botoeva

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The aim of this study is to contribute to the current literature concerning the social acceptance of illegal practices. Using legal pluralism as a general framework of analysis, this study discusses the relationship between state law and alternative perspectives concerning its legitimacy. It presents the experience of people involved in hashish harvesting in one of the regions of Kyrgyzstan, how the state defines it as an ‘illegal practice’ and how the local population subsequently invokes normative systems based on local spiritual knowledge and the local moral economy of hashish production. It argues that acceptance of hashish harvesting as a legitimate means of support is not a straightforward process. Despite the predominant legitimating narrative of hashish harvesting, it enters into a conversation with state defined notions of ‘illegality’ and is also shaped by the customary understanding of the spiritual power of cannabis plants that requires caution when making hashish.

© 2019, The Author(s). This is an author produced version of a paper published in THEORETICAL CRIMINOLOGY uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2019


  • Legal pluralism
  • legitimation of illegal practices
  • de-legitimation of law and state
  • corruption of law enforcement
  • neutralization techniques
  • moral economy
  • illegal drug production

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