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In: Central Asian Affairs

Abstract

This article reflects on how the concept of regionalism has been used to explain and interpret Central Asian politics since independence. It argues that regionalism, often a norm-laden analytical category based on Eurocentric assumptions, tends to paint the region as “failed” and regional states as incapable of institutionalizing multilateral relations. In its place, the article suggests the concept of order, which is more neutral and—through its focus on the operation of sovereignty, diplomacy, international law, authoritarianism, and great power management—is able to incorporate elements of both the conflict and cooperation that have marked the region’s politics since 1991.

Open Access
In: Central Asian Affairs

Abstract

This paper investigates how Chinese migrants are perceived by different groups in Kyrgyzstan—and in what domains local people turn to Sinophobia. To date, Kyrgyzstani political leaders have tended to be Sinophilic, whereas bazaar traders and ordinary citizens, fearing large inflows of Chinese migrants, are Sinophobic. The article paints a picture of Chinese migrants’ lives in Bishkek and their negative and positive experiences with local people. It concludes by demonstrating that lay people and radical nationalist groups alike deploy Sinophobic rhetoric in relation to China and Chinese immigrants living in Kyrgyzstan.

In: Central Asian Affairs
Author: Valerie Sartor

Abstract

This study provides an overview of how perceptions of the English language in Kazakhstan have altered over time due to political, economic, social and technological changes. The sociocultural framework includes language commodification and critical pedagogy concerning Indigenous languages; the methodological approach is narrative analysis combined with Bakhtin’s theory of dialogism. Three generational shifts were identified, each reflective of sociocultural changes that have occurred as Kazakhstan has transitioned from Soviet republic to modern Indigenous nation: from the Soviet Era/Soviet Man; to Independent Kazakhstan/Patriots and Outsiders; to Modern Kazakhstan/Young Cosmopolitans. The ongoing popularity of English may eventually threaten the Kazakh language.

In: Central Asian Affairs

Abstract

In this paper, we unpack the uchyot (“registration”) system using Foucault’s regime-based approach. Uchyot is a Soviet tool for controlling populations by requiring them to register personal information and then sharing this information with the relevant state institutions. This paper explores how uchyot is used to control drug users in Uzbekistan and Central Asian migrants in Russia. It argues that social and economic pressures, combined with strict policies, push unwanted citizens and migrants to engage in risky behaviors or into the shadows of informality and illegality.

In: Central Asian Affairs
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