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In: Central Asian Affairs

Abstract

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Tajikistan, like other postcommunist states, embarked on agricultural land reform. The government, assisted by international organizations, implemented laws and created campaigns to break up Soviet-style collective farms and encourage independent farms. After over a decade, 66 percent of farmers in the country, including in cotton-growing areas, continue to work collectively, and 71 percent of arable land is held in collectives. I argue that the decentralized nature of the land redistribution program enabled the managers of former collective farms, re-labeled as “collective peasant farms,” to gain power so that they could use informal practices to resist peasant shareholders’ efforts to actualize their land rights. Theoretically, my argument reconciles competing perspectives about the reasons for limited land redistribution in the context of postsocialist transition. The study’s policy implication is that the government of Tajikistan, and foreign donors, instead of decentralizing the implementation of land reform, should take an active role in physically redistributing land among shareholders.

In: Central Asian Affairs

Abstract

Conventional wisdom highlights civil society as an integral component of a democratic society. Due to the dominance of the state in all aspects of life, civil society was largely absent in Uzbekistan until the change of government in 2016. The new President Mirziyoyev’s liberalization policy towards media gave birth to a strong group of opinion formers visible on social media platforms, otherwise known as “bloggers”. This paper seeks to identify how Mirziyoyev’s liberalization policy affects Uzbekistan’s path to consolidate its democracy. It argues that the recent political liberalization showed early signs of the emergence of civil society groups. To support this argument, the paper uses the case of two unrelated incidents: large scale demolition of people’s properties by the khokimiyat in Urganch, and forced labor of public servants in the Bukhara region.

In: Central Asian Affairs
Author: Alisher Latypov

Abstract

In this paper I trace sanitation, education, and cultural enlightenment practices in early Soviet Tajikistan, and reassess the role of red teahouses in addressing drug use and other health issues in the country. I examine the assertions of Soviet historians and physicians by drawing on extensive archival records from Russia and Tajikistan and local newspapers published in Tajikistan in the 1930s, and in doing so accentuate an alternative account that illustrates the limits of Soviet undertakings and the appalling gaps between the aspirations of Soviet leaders and reality. Red teahouses failed both to focus on health challenges and to tackle the use of narcotic intoxicants in early Soviet Tajikistan. The majority of these new Soviet facilities functioned as commercial socio-gastronomic entities until the late 1930s and beyond, rather than spreading health propaganda and engaging in the cultural construction and enlightenment of the Tajik people.

In: Central Asian Affairs
Authors: Edward Lemon and Omid Rahimi

The armed rebellion of Deputy Defense Minister Abduhalim Nazarzoda in September 2015 was a critical moment in the post-war history of Tajikistan. The rebellion, which the government blamed on the Islamic Renaissance Party, formed the justification for the Supreme Court to classify the party as a terrorist organization and arrest its leadership. While the government framed the events as a coup attempt, supported by the IRPT, the narrative had inconsistencies and Nazarzoda had been loyal to the state since the end of the civil war. Using the ideas of Carl Schmitt, who argued that sovereignty lies in the ability of a strong executive to monopolize decision-making, define when there is an emergency, and how to resolve it. In this case, president Rahmon used the the sense of emergency and threat created by the “coup” attempt to dismantle the IRPT and then have himself legally declared “Leader of the Nation.”

In: Central Asian Affairs

Abstract

Kyrgyzstan has experienced a rapid and diverse expansion of religious educational offerings in the past two decades and presents a fascinating regional case study of the development of Islamic education. Based on a rich ethnographic study, this article explores recently developed processes by which madrasa-based knowledge is established and transmitted. In revealing these processes, the article draws attention to political struggles for control over the transmission of religious knowledge between state and non-state actors on the one hand, and religious actors on the other. It further delves into the material and spiritual world of madrasas as perceived by students motivated to gain education and their families. In the final section, it uncovers how different madrasas use religious education, under the varied concept of ‘service to community’, to establish and maintain networks of graduates, which are necessary to the further rooting of Islamic fellowships into society, politics and the economy.

In: Central Asian Affairs
In: Central Asian Affairs

Internationalization transformed the way Higher Education (HE) is provided. Used correctly, internationalization can bring a useful exchange of services and resources into a country’s HE sector. Although there is a growing body of research on HE internationalization broadly, current scholarship overlooks the correlation of excessive reliance on opening of foreign university branches as a way to internationalize the HE sector and the development of the local HE system. This research thus provides the first insights into how the internationalization of HE may not necessarily solve a developing country’s problems in the local HE sector. Using the case of Uzbekistan, it argues that, in the absence of systematic reforms in the local HE system, HE reform that over-relies on the imported internationalization in the form of foreign university branches is not sustainable. Such “franchise” or “imported” internationalization does not contribute to the development of local HE system.

In: Central Asian Affairs
Author: Denis Sokolov

In the 2000s, Al-Qaeda, represented by the Caucasus Emirate, took over the first Chechen resistance, as well as local Islamist armed groups in Dagestan and other republics of the North Caucasus. However, a decade later, the Islamic State won the competition with Al-Qaeda, by including the involvement of women in its project. Hundreds of Russian-speaking Muslim women followed men to live by the rules of Islam. Some joined their husbands or children. Others travelled to the Islamic State in pursuit of love and romance with future husbands they had met on the internet. Based on exclusive interviews done with women detained in the Roj detention camp in the Kurdish territories in northeastern Syria near the Iraqi border, this article analyzes some of the trajectories that has pushed young North Caucasian women to the Syrian war theater in the name of love.

In: Central Asian Affairs