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Regular version of the site

The geopolitical and cultural context of Central Asia

2023/2024
Academic Year
ENG
Instruction in English
3
ECTS credits
Course type:
Elective course
When:
2 year, 2 module

Instructor


Морини Мара

Course Syllabus

Abstract

This course aims at providing a deeper knowledge on the geopolitical and cultural context of Central Asia. In the last decades, the role played by China in the International order has paved the way to a challenge to the leading US whose main objective is to shape a new International order based on a multipolar system. Moreover, Russia plays an important role in the region after the breakup of the former USSR with different approaches to “Stan” countries according to their reaction to the external political factors. In this respect, the key priorities of this course are twofold. On the one hand, it will be examined both the domestic situation - i.e. leadership, institutions, political parties and society -, in each CA States and their Foreign Policy to better understand their relationship with both China and Russia and other relevant political actors in this region. On the other hand, recent political events (crisis in Ukraine and Israel) may have an impact on CA States’ attitudes towards the International challenges coming from different angles. China is one of the dominant actors in the world as well as US and Russia. As a matter of fact, it is extremely important to analyze the geopolitical effects of CA States’policies towards the challenging partners vs US. In doing so, the course will also focus on the levels of cooperation or competition of Russia and China in this geopolitical context. This methodological approach will allow students to understand to what extent CA States play a complex interplay of competition and cooperation in different policies between key actors in economics, politics, and security issues.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • THIS COURSE WILL PURSUE THE FOLLOWING MAIN OBJECTIVES: 1) Discuss the theoretical concept of Geopolitics. 2) Describe the main features of the CA political systems in comparative perspective. 3) Examine the strategies and policies of the “stan’s leadership”. 4) Analyze key features of Kazakhstan’s cooperation/competition in politics, security and economics with the US. 5) Analyze key features of Uzbekistan’s cooperation/competition in politics, security and economics with Russia. 6) Analyze key features of Tajikistan’s cooperation/competition in politics, security and economics with the EU. 7) Analyze key features of Kyrghyzstan’s cooperation/competition in politics, security and economics with Central Asia. 8) Analyze key features of Turkmenista’s cooperation/competition in politics, security and economics with Indo-Pacific States. 10) Focus on the cooperation/competition policies of Russia and China in the region. 11) Outline possible future scenarios for CA in the global order.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • knows the main characteristics of the CA political system;
  • analyzes the main traditional and non-traditional threats in the region, and major economic trends in Central Asia;
  • finds, analyzes and comprehends new information, proposes theoretical concepts and models explaining practical behavior and policies of key states in the IR, taking into account the growing cooperation/competition between China and Russia in this geopolitical area;
  • acquires modern methodology to clarify interests of main regional actors to be able to foresee future development of the international situation.
  • Individual study, as well as active in-person attendance to class and activities will enable students to: i) identify, analyse, understand and apply the sources of data and theories dealing with this geopolitical area; ii) understand and analyse the mutual coordination of sources; iii) independently identify and critically evaluate the main issues of CA; iv) express in appropriate scientific language.
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Lecture 1 – Course Overview. The main theories and concepts in IR vs Geopolitics. Seminar 1: The return of Geopolitcs.
  • Lecture 2 – The CA political systems in comparative perspective Seminar 2: Leadership, Presidentialization pf political parties, clan politics, cultural identity and society.
  • Lecture 3 – Uzbekistan’s cooperation/competition in politics, security and economics with Russia and China. Tajikistan’s cooperation/competition in politics, security and economics with Russia and China.
  • Lecture 4 – Kazakhstan’s cooperation/competition in politics, security and economics with Russia and China. Kyrgyzstan’s cooperation/competition in politics, security and economics with Russia and China.
  • Lecture 5 – Central Asia in the new global order. Seminar 5: The crises in Ukraine and in the Middle East. The American role in the geopolitical region. Market, economy, trade with the EU.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Participation in class discussion
    In each lecture and seminar, students have to read at least two articles/chapters/books from the list of the recommended literature. It is highly recommended Apart to read other materials relevant to the course’s general theme and topics. Substantial part of the relevant materials can be found in the web resources’ list below. Students are required actively participate in discussions during seminars.
  • non-blocking THE ESSAY
    Students are required to do one written assignment. They must write an analytical essay on any topic that is relevant to the general theme of the course. Students should propose the essay’s subject/title which must be confirmed by the professor. The essay must be between 12 and 15 pages long (around 8000 words).
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • 2023/2024 2nd module
    0.5 * Participation in class discussion + 0.5 * THE ESSAY
Bibliography

Bibliography

Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Rumer, E. B., Zhao, H., & Trenin, D. (2007). Central Asia: Views From Washington, Moscow, and Beijing : Views From Washington, Moscow, and Beijing. Armonk, N.Y.: Routledge. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=275497

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Kluczewska, K. (2017). Benefactor, industry or intruder? Perceptions of international organizations in Central Asia – the case of the OSCE in Tajikistan. Central Asian Survey, 36(3), 353–372. https://doi.org/10.1080/02634937.2017.1281220