The paper sheds light on informal economies, focusing on transnational entrepreneurs between Central Asia and Russia. Both male and female entrepreneurs from Central Asia live mobile economic lives, traveling between Central Asia and Russia and forming a kind of class. With Islam playing a prominent role in the regulation of informal economies, Islamic belonging has become a stronger marker of identity than ethnicity among Central Asian migrants in Russia, and mosque communities have grown in influence. Mosques have become places to meet and socialize, where contacts are established and maintained.
This article contributes to the growing field of social media and internet research, focusing on questions of securitization and examining the internet politics of Central Asia with a specific focus on Turkmenistan. The article extends the brief analysis introduced by Tucker and Turaeva (2016) concerning Turkmen nationals joining IS (Islamic State). Here, I have contextualized those reported discussions into a wider geopolitical and sociological positioning of the participants (both individual and states) with the aim of uncovering the methods and principles that state and non-state actors use to construct discourses of threat and danger on social media and elsewhere on the internet. I argue that social media and the internet have moved beyond being a means for open communication and exchange; they have also come to be used by authoritarian states to suppress, control, and manipulate certain discourses. In the case of Turkmenistan, social media helps to control security discourse about the ISIS threat and the presence of Turkmenistani nationals in the group, even as it grants open access to information.
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.