The Spotlight on Central Eurasia Speaker Series, hosted by the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute, aims to inform Washington, DC-based scholars and practitioners of the latest research on a range of topics impacting the future of the Caucasus and Central Asia. Throughout the academic year, speakers from various disciplines, including political science, anthropology, sociology, and history, will present highlights from their recent articles and books.
Jesse Driscoll, Academy Scholar, Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, Harvard University, and Assistant Professor of Political Science, School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, University of California at San Diego discussed his forthcoming book on how political order emerged in Tajikistan and Georgia after the violent chaos of the Soviet collapse. read more
Spotlight on Central Eurasia Series // Russell Zanca, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Northeastern Illinois University, depicts the cultural changes and continuities that have occurred as a result of Uzbekistan's recent political independence from the Soviet Union. This case study examines how the agrarian population has faced unremitting material hardships, brutal state repression, leaving the major opportunity for the youth and able-bodied has been either migration to cities or to countries abroad.
Spotlight on Central Eurasia Series // Ethnic Uzbeks in the Kyrgyz Republic (Kyrgyzstan) attempted to create a place for themselves in the Kyrgyz-dominated nation-state since its independence in 1991. For a while, there were reasons to be optimistic about this minority community. Even though they felt ethnic discrimination, local Uzbek leaders labored through the 1990s and 2000s to build institutions that serve the Uzbek communities within the framework of their Kyrgyzstani citizenship. That model of ethnic community-building now lies in tatters after the massive conflict between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in June 2010. What now for Uzbeks in the Kyrgyz Republic? As part of the Kennan Institute's Spotlight on Central Eurasia Speaker Series, Morgan Y. Liu will evaluate their prospects in light of sixteen years of detailed ethnographic work among Osh Uzbeks.
Spotlight on Central Eurasia Series // Authors and scholars Alexander Cooley and Alexander Kupatadze discuss their research into the interplay of geopolitics and local networks across Central Asia. Cooley explores the dynamics of the new competition between Russia, China and the United States over the region since 9/11, as well as how small states’ interaction with great powers advances our understanding of how world politics actually works in the contemporary era of diminishing Western influence and rising new regional powers. Author Alexander Kupatadze will discuss the diverging trajectories of organized crime in post-Soviet Eurasia focusing on professional criminals (so-called vory-v-zakone) in Georgia and drug smuggling groups in Kyrgyzstan.
Spotlight on Central Eurasia Series // Laura Henry, John F. and Dorothy H. Magee Associate Professor of Government, Bowdoin College examines forest conservation and climate change issues in her research on Russia's environmental policy. How does global environmental governance influence environmental protection in Russia? Amanda Wooden, Assistant Professor of Environmental Politics & Policy, Environmental Studies Program, Bucknell University, discusses her work on the understudied issue of protest politics and the environment in Central Asia. This research sheds light on the unique and universal characteristics of environmental politics in Kyrgyzstan, and provides insight into governance and instability in the country more broadly.
Spotlight on Central Eurasia Series // Stacy Closson argues that Central Asia is an energy and water rich region that, if cooperative, could cover their annual shortages of electricity, which range roughly around 25%, as well as decrease costs of energy, and protect the environment. Instead, the leaders have engaged in hostile practices that not only cause problems across borders and waste foreign investment and assistance, but also limit their developmental possibilities. Gregory Gleason notes that inherently non-transparent and centralized fixed energy infrastructures such as oil and gas pipelines and electric grids obscure financial transactions and are susceptible to political manipulation. Gleason, in his analysis of "power politics," explains why he sees the rapid pace of technology-driven market volatility in Eurasian markets as swiftly shifting Central Asian trends.
Spotlight on Central Eurasia Series // Based on ethnographic research with contemporary artists and galleries in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Nauruzbayeva traces the ways in which the Soviet-era notions of art as a public good are transforming into art as a private commodity. In the process of renegotiating the loss of the former state sponsorship and recruiting private consumers for their art, Kazakhstani visual artists challenge the notion of the market as an inevitable force that emerges out of the self-interest of market players. After independence, the Uzbek government maintained a monopoly over ideology, exploiting the remaining Soviet institutional and cultural legacies. The state expressed national identity through tightly controlled mass spectacles, including theatrical and musical performances. Adams' analysis of the content, form, and production of these ceremonies shows how Uzbekistan’s cultural and political elites engaged in a highly directed, largely successful program of nation building through culture.
Spotlight on Central Eurasia Series // The revival of geopolitics after the collapse of the USSR, combined with a renewed interest in nationalism, contributed to a wave of Western studies of Georgia as a source of ethnic conflict, Great Power politics, and energy competition. These themes, though important, are one-sided, according to the speaker. Georgian political culture, social relations, local government, employment - the daily bread of political life - have been overshadowed by the sensational antics of Georgia’s elites.
Spotlight on Central Eurasia Series // The speaker will discuss his book, a compelling study of the divergent political courses taken by Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan in the wake of Soviet rule. McGlinchey examines economics, religion, political legacies, foreign investment, and the ethnicity of these countries to evaluate the relative success of political structures in each nation.
Experts & Staff
- Matthew Rojansky // Director, Kennan Institute
- William E. Pomeranz // Deputy Director, Kennan Institute
- F. Joseph Dresen // Program Associate
- Mary Elizabeth Malinkin // Program Associate
- Mattison Brady // Program Assistant
- Blair A. Ruble // Director, Global Sustainability and Resilience Program, and Senior Advisor, Kennan Institute