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Regular version of the site

Politics and Society in Central Asia

2019/2020
Academic Year
ENG
Instruction in English
6
ECTS credits
Course type:
Elective course
When:
1 year, 3, 4 module

Course Syllabus

Abstract

This course explores politics and society in contemporary post-Soviet Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan). It will briefly cover Central Asian history in the Russian Empire and the USSR before proceeding with an analysis of its post-Soviet transformation(s). The course aims to provide students with understanding of key issues in political and societal developments in these countries. It covers a number of issues such as Russian/Soviet legacies; post-colonial/post-Soviet identities; state building and state fragility; ethnicity, language, nationhood, nation building and nationalism; (ethnic) conflict and violence; role of gender, family, religion, formal and informal networks and institutions in state-society relations; multiple forms of civil society and ambiguous impact of (external) development/democracy promotion efforts. The course will help students to acquire knowledge on the nature of state, politics and society in Central Asia, and develop critical thinking on variations in and drivers of political, economic, social and cultural transformations in this part of the world.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • To provide students with understanding of key issues in political and societal developments in Central Asian countries.
  • To help students to acquire knowledge on the nature of state, politics and society in Central Asia, and develop critical thinking on variations in and drivers of political, economic, social and cultural transformations in this part of the world.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • knows key issues in political and societal developments in Central Asian countries
  • knows the concepts of post-colonial/post-Soviet legacies and identities
  • understands the role of gender, family, religion, formal and informal networks and institutions in state-society relations in Central Asia
  • compares multiple forms of civil society in Central Asia
  • analyses post-Soviet transformation(s) in Central Asian countries
  • applies the concepts of state building and state fragility; ethnicity, language, nationhood, nation building and nationalism; (ethnic) conflict and violence to analysis of Central Asian politics and societies
  • demonstrates critical thinking on variations in and drivers of political, economic, social and cultural transformations in Central Asia
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Central Asia in the Russian Empire. Political transformations and nation-building in the Soviet period
  • Independence: experiencing post-colonial and post-Soviet
  • Peace-building, nation-building and state-building (I)
  • Peace-building, nation-building and state-building (II)
  • Multiple facets of the state
  • Tradition and informality
  • Gender and family
  • Islam: beyond radicalization narratives
  • Migration
  • Multiple forms of civil society: “local” ways and “universal” templates
  • Civil society: international involvement and its effects
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking In-class participation
    Assessment will be based on attendance, preparation of readings, participation in class discussion with the focus on qualitative contribution to the discussion, ability to answer questions based on the readings, come up with own interpretations and react to comments made by other students.
  • non-blocking Presentation
    Each tutorial (starting from the week 2) will commence by a presentation prepared by a small group of students (up to 4 students per group). During the first tutorial, students should propose for approval by the instructor: 1) composition of their groups; 2) topics for their presentations based on the topics/readings for the tutorials; 3) outlines of their presentations. These presentations will function as basis for further class discussion. Therefore, presenters are supposed to cover mandatory and optional readings and, preferably, use other non-assigned sources for their analysis on the chosen topic in order to make a genuinely original contribution
  • non-blocking Mid-term book review (1000-1500 words)
    For this mid-term assignment, students need to read a book from the list below (book choice needs to be approved by the instructor by the week 2) and write a short book review (1000-1500 words). The review is due by the tutorial 6. Books for the book review (please select one for your analysis): Liu, M. (2012) Under Solomon’s Throne: Uzbek Visions of Renewal in Osh. Pittsburg: University of Pittsburg Press. Radnitz, S. (2010) Weapons of the Wealthy: Predatory Regimes and Elite-led Protests in Central Asia. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press. Reeves, M. (2014) Border Work: Spatial Lives of the State in Rural Central Asia. Cornell University Press. Roche, S. (2014) Domesticating Youth: Youth Bulges and Their Socio-Political Implications in Tajikistan. New York and Oxford: Berghahn. Schatz, E. (2004) Modern Clan Politics and Beyond: The Power of “Blood” in Kazakhstan. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.
  • non-blocking Final paper (3000 words)
    The final paper should relate to any aspect of the course. It can be a critical review of the existing literature on a specific topic, or an original piece of research (format and topic need to be approved by the instructor by the week 4). The final paper is due by the tutorial 12.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (4 module)
    0.25 * Final paper (3000 words) + 0.25 * In-class participation + 0.25 * Mid-term book review (1000-1500 words) + 0.25 * Presentation
Bibliography

Bibliography

Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Beyer, J., Rasanayagam, J., & Reeves, M. (2013). Ethnographies of the State in Central Asia : Performing Politics. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=677473
  • Juraev, S. (2008). Kyrgyz democracy? The Tulip Revolution and beyond. Central Asian Survey, 27(3/4), 253–264. https://doi.org/10.1080/02634930802536464
  • Matteo Fumagalli. (2007). Framing ethnic minority mobilisation in Central Asia: The cases of Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Europe-Asia Studies, (4), 567. https://doi.org/10.1080/09668130701289869
  • Pétric, B. (2005). Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan or the birth of a globalized protectorate. Central Asian Survey, 24(3), 319–332. https://doi.org/10.1080/02634930500310402
  • Sahadeo, J., & Zanca, R. (2007). Everyday Life in Central Asia : Past and Present. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=642391
  • SLEZKINE, Y. (1994). The USSR as a communal apartment, or how a socialist state promoted ethnic particularism. Slavic Review, (2), 414. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsfra&AN=edsfra.3717682

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Menga, F. (2015). Building a nation through a dam: the case of Rogun in Tajikistan. Nationalities Papers, 43(3), 479–494. https://doi.org/10.1080/00905992.2014.924489
  • Nasritdinov, E. (2016). ‘Only by learning how to live together differently can we live together at all’: readability and legibility of Central Asian migrants’ presence in urban Russia. Central Asian Survey, 35(2), 257–275. https://doi.org/10.1080/02634937.2016.1153837
  • Schatz, E. (2004). Modern Clan Politics : The Power of “Blood” in Kazakhstan and Beyond. Seattle, Wash: University of Washington Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=598289