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Author: Bekzod Zakirov

Abstract

This paper investigates the nature of Uzbekistan’s political system under President Islam Karimov through the lenses of patronal presidentialism to explain the factors conducive to the durability of the current regime. The paper argues that the longevity of the authoritarian regime in Uzbekistan can be best understood by a methodology that reconciles the propositions of institutional analysis of authoritarian rule with conventional methods of maintaining power such as coercion and patronage. Revealing the limitation of mainstream literature that overemphasizes neopatrimonialism and informality to understand domestic politics, the paper asserts that patronal president Islam Karimov assumed multiple instruments of power at the intersection of state and economy, which ensured regime stability in Uzbekistan until his death in 2016.

In: Central Asian Affairs
Free access
In: Central Asian Affairs

Abstract

This study investigates the impact of male labor migration upon wives living among their husbands’ extended families in Tajikistan. It studies the risks and choices available to such wives in bargaining for remittances, with a particular focus on the risks that daughters-in-law (kelin in Tajik) undertake when negotiating remittances with their mothers-in-law. This paper explores age and gender-specific norms in Tajik transnational families and their minimal opportunities for kelins to bargain and negotiate the risks associated with making “claims” on remittances by using Deniz Kandiyoti’s “patriarchal bargain” and Bina Agarwal’s household bargain framework, as well as extensive fieldwork conducted in Tajikistan. The study concludes that international migration and remittances have had a complex impact on gender norms in Tajikistan, with emerging new forms of passive negotiation by kelins unlikely to undermine patriarchal gender norms in their favor.

In: Central Asian Affairs
In: Central Asian Affairs
Author: Beate Eschment

Abstract

Almost all minority ethnic groups in Kazakhstan are immigrants. This means that in addition to their current place of residence, Kazakhstan (their “Second Homeland”), they also have a place of origin (their “Historical Homeland”). The leadership of the country has approached this situation, which offers opportunities as well as dangers, by explicitly exhorting the official ethnic representations of minorities to nurture contacts with their Historical Homelands. In this article the examples of the Chechens and Kurds will be used to show how the representations of both ethnicities actively and politically pursued this task. For both groups, representing a nation without an independent state, a fourth actor must be added to the “triangle nexus” familiar from diaspora studies, respectively Russia and Turkey, whose positions the Kazakhstani government cannot simply disregard. What emerges from the study is the strong emotional link of both minorities’ representatives with Kazakhstan as their Second Homeland.

Open Access
In: Central Asian Affairs
Author: Ablet Kamalov

Abstract

This article examines the ethno-national identity of Uyghurs in Kazakhstan, which, during the period of independence, has been undergoing a complex process of transformation from ‘Sovietness’ to ‘Kazakhstanness.’ This transformation is shaped by the ethnic policy of Kazakhstan, aiming for the consolidation of society and formation of a united Kazakhstani nation. Post-Soviet development not only produces threats to the Uyghur ethnic identity, but also creates new perspectives for it. The article focuses on some dimensions of the Uyghur identity determined by cross-border migration from the Xinjiang-Uyghur autonomous region of the neighboring People’s Republic of China and Soviet national policy, such as language, cultural institutions, and existence of the Uyghur district in the Almaty province. Analysis of the discourse of vätän (motherland) shows a shift to a perception of Kazakhstan as a homeland.

In: Central Asian Affairs

Abstract

The paper examines the production of secondary-school textbooks published between 1992 and 2019 that address the Soviet history of Kazakhstan. It argues that textbook authors exercise agency when discussing Kazakhstan’s participation in the Second World War. While some authors focus squarely on the heroism of Kazakhs and the Kazakh nation’s contribution to the final victory, others build upon this narrative by discussing the human losses incurred and the experiences of ordinary people. This article contributes to studies looking at portrayals of World War II in post-Soviet countries’ history textbooks.

In: Central Asian Affairs

Abstract

Since the national independence of the Central Asian countries in the early 1990s, there has been a tension between stability- and transformation-oriented rationalities, goals, and policies. However, the concurrent missions of political stability and societal transformation indicate a clear distinction between state and society. This idea of separating state and society is particularly strong with regard to security issues, but this strict separation is likely to produce contradictory goals and to have dysfunctional consequences since it prevents the political system from benefitting from the contribution that civil society can make to addressing political and social challenges. Therefore, in this article—which also serves as an introduction to the special issue—we argue that it is necessary to bridge the discourses on security and civil society, with a particular focus on Central Asia.

In: Central Asian Affairs
Author: Sebastian Mayer

Abstract

The degree of institutionalized cooperation on security among three or more of the five Central Asian states remains moderate. Currently, regional security is nurtured in part via frameworks provided by external state and nonstate partners. A rational institutionalist perspective has been invoked, suggesting demand for regional security cooperation. This view also insinuates that it would be reasonable for these five states, because of their limited resources, to rely largely on external cooperation partners instead of being self-organized. This article discusses additional causal factors possibly responsible for the low degree of regionalism. Given varying foreign policy preferences and Kazakhstan’s consistent backing of far-reaching security regionalism, the argument that autocracies generally refrain from deep security cooperation cannot be sustained, nor does the sea change in Uzbekistan’s foreign policy in 2016, which could serve to nurture security regionalism in the future, align well with this argument.

Open Access
In: Central Asian Affairs