From Czarism and Bolshevism to the current post-communist era, the media in Central Asia has been tightly constrained. Though the governments in the region assert that a free press is permitted to operate, research has shown this to be untrue. In all five former Soviet republics of Central Asia, the media has been controlled, suppressed, punished, and often outlawed. This enlightening collection of essays investigates the reasons why these countries have failed to develop independent and sustainable press systems. It documents the complex relationship between the press and governance, nation-building, national identity, and public policy. In this book, scholars explore the numerous and broad-reaching implications of media control in a variety of contexts, touching on topics such as Internet regulation and censorship, press rights abuses, professional journalism standards and self-censorship, media ownership, ethnic newspapers, blogging, Western broadcasting into the region, and coverage of terrorism.
For centuries, Central Asia has been a leading civilization, an Islamic heartland, and a geographical link between West and East. After a long traditional history, it is now in a state of change. With the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, five newborn Central Asian states have emerged in place of the former Soviet Central Asia and Afghanistan. Central Asia provides the most comprehensive survey of the history of the impact of Russian rule upon the political, economic, social, intellectual, and cultural life of this diverse region. Together, these essays convey a sense of the region’s community as well as the divisive policies that have affected it for so long. Now in its third edition (it was first published in 1967 and revised in 1989), this new edition of Central Asia has been updated to include a new preface, a revised and updated bibliography, and a final chapter that brings the book up to 1994 in considering the crucial problems that stem from a deprivation of sovereign, indigenous leadership over the past 130 years. This volume provides a broad and essential background for understanding what has led up to the late twentieth-century configuration of Central Asia.
In the post-Soviet era, democracy has made little progress in Central Asia. In Chaos, Violence, Dynasty, Eric McGlinchey presents a compelling comparative 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.
McGlinchey explains the impact of Soviet policy on the region, from Lenin to Gorbachev. Ruling from a distance, a minimally invasive system of patronage proved the most successful over time, but planted the seeds for current “neo-patrimonial” governments. The level of direct Soviet involvement during perestroika was the major determinant in the stability of ensuing governments. Soviet manipulations of the politics of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in the late 1980s solidified the role of elites, while in Kyrgyzstan the Soviets looked away as leadership crumbled during the ethnic riots of 1990. Today, Kyrgyzstan is the poorest and most politically unstable country in the region, thanks to a small, corrupt, and fractured political elite. In Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov maintains power through the brutal suppression of disaffected Muslims, who are nevertheless rising in numbers and influence. In Kazakhstan, a political machine fueled by oil wealth and patronage underlies the greatest economic equity in the region, and far less political violence.
McGlinchey’s timely study calls for a more realistic and flexible view of the successful aspects of authoritarian systems in the region that will be needed if there is to be any potential benefit from foreign engagement with the nations of Central Asia, and similar political systems globally.
Those who herd in the vast grassland region of Inner Asia face a precarious situation as they struggle to respond to the momentous political and economic changes of recent years. In The End of Nomadism? Caroline Humphrey and David Sneath confront the romantic, ahistorical myth of the wandering nomad by revealing the complex lives and the significant impact on Asian culture of these modern “mobile pastoralists.” In their examination of the present and future of pastoralism, the authors recount the extensive and quite sudden social, political, environmental, and economic changes of recent years that have forced these peoples to respond and evolve in order to maintain their centuries-old way of life. Using extensive and detailed case studies comparing pastoralism in Siberian Russia, Mongolia, and Northwest China, Humphrey and Sneath explore the different paths taken by nomads in these countries in reaction to a changing world. In examining how each culture is facing not only different prospects for sustainability but also different environmental problems, the authors come to the surprising conclusion that mobility can, in fact, be compatible with a modern and urbanized world. While placing emphasis on the social and cultural traditions of Inner Asia and their fate in the post-Socialist economies of the present, The End of Nomadism? investigates the changing nature of pastoralism by focusing on key areas under environmental threat and relating the ongoing problems to distinctive socioeconomic policies and practices in Russia and China. It also provides lively contemporary commentary on current economic dilemmas by revealing in telling detail, for instance, the struggle of one extended family to make a living. This book will interest Central Asian, Russian, and Chinese specialists, as well as those studying the environment, anthropology, sociology, peasant studies, and ecology.
Russia occupies a unique position in the Muslim world. Unlike any other non-Islamic state, it has ruled Muslim populations for over five hundred years. Though Russia today is plagued by its unrelenting war in Chechnya, Russia’s approach toward Islam once yielded stability. In stark contrast to the popular “clash of civilizations” theory that sees Islam inevitably in conflict with the West, Robert D. Crews reveals the remarkable ways in which Russia constructed an empire with broad Muslim support.
In the eighteenth century, Catherine the Great inaugurated a policy of religious toleration that made Islam an essential pillar of Orthodox Russia. For ensuing generations, tsars and their police forces supported official Muslim authorities willing to submit to imperial directions in exchange for defense against brands of Islam they deemed heretical and destabilizing. As a result, Russian officials assumed the powerful but often awkward role of arbitrator in disputes between Muslims. And just as the state became a presence in the local mosque, Muslims became inextricably integrated into the empire and shaped tsarist will in Muslim communities stretching from the Volga River to Central Asia.
For Prophet and Tsar draws on police and court records, and Muslim petitions, denunciations, and clerical writings—not accessible prior to 1991—to unearth the fascinating relationship between an empire and its subjects. As America and Western Europe debate how best to secure the allegiances of their Muslim populations, Crews offers a unique and critical historical vantage point.
Sufis created the most extensive Muslim revivalist network in Asia before the twentieth century, generating a vibrant Persianate literary, intellectual, and spiritual culture while tying together a politically fractured world.
In a pathbreaking work combining social history, religious studies, and anthropology, Waleed Ziad examines the development across Asia of Muslim revivalist networks from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. At the center of the story are the Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi Sufis, who inspired major reformist movements and articulated effective social responses to the fracturing of Muslim political power amid European colonialism. In a time of political upheaval, the Mujaddidis fused Persian, Arabic, Turkic, and Indic literary traditions, mystical virtuosity, popular religious practices, and urban scholasticism in a unified yet flexible expression of Islam. The Mujaddidi “Hidden Caliphate,” as it was known, brought cohesion to diverse Muslim communities from Delhi through Peshawar to the steppes of Central Asia. And the legacy of Mujaddidi Sufis continues to shape the Muslim world, as their institutional structures, pedagogies, and critiques have worked their way into leading social movements from Turkey to Indonesia, and among the Muslims of China.
By shifting attention away from court politics, colonial actors, and the standard narrative of the “Great Game,” Ziad offers a new vision of Islamic sovereignty. At the same time, he demonstrates the pivotal place of the Afghan Empire in sustaining this vast inter-Asian web of scholastic and economic exchange. Based on extensive fieldwork across Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan at madrasas, Sufi monasteries, private libraries, and archives, Hidden Caliphate reveals the long-term influence of Mujaddidi reform and revival in the eastern Muslim world, bringing together seemingly disparate social, political, and intellectual currents from the Indian Ocean to Siberia.
During the 1990s, there was a general consensus that Central Asia was witnessing an Islamic revival after independence, and that this occurrence would follow similar events throughout the Islamic world in the prior two decades, which had negative effects on both social and political development. Twenty years later, we are still struggling to fully understand the transformation of Islam in a region that’s evolved through a complex and dynamic process, involving diversity in belief and practice, religious authority, and political intervention. This volume seeks to shed light on these crucial questions by bringing together an international group of scholars to offer a new perspective on Central Asian states and societies.
The chapters provide analysis through four distinct categories: the everyday practice of Islam across local communities; state policies toward Islam, focusing on attempts to regulate public and private practice through cultural, legal, and political institutions and how these differ from Soviet policies; how religious actors influence communities in the practice of Islam, state policies towards the religion, and subsequent communal responses to state regulations; and how knowledge of and interaction with the larger Islamic world is shaping Central Asia’s current Islamic revival and state responses.
The contributors, a multidisciplinary and international group of leading scholars, develop fresh insights that both corroborate and contradict findings from previous research, while also highlighting the problem of making any generalizations about Islam in individual states or the region. As such, this volume provides new and impactful analysis for scholars, students, and policy makers concerned with Central Asia.
Following the so-called “Material Turn” of historiography, this book explores the materialization of identity in urban space—specifically in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Urban spaces played an important role in the formation of national identities in post-socialist successor states across the region, while at the same time the articulation of national identities markedly affected the appearance of these post-socialist cities. Beginning with an overview of socialist and post-socialist cities in recent urban history, contributors trace the post-socialist intertwining of space and identities in case studies that include Astana and Almaty in Kazakhstan, Chișinău and Tiraspol in Moldova, and Skopje in Macedonia, while also linking this phenomenon to socialist urbanism, as in postwar Minsk, Belarus.
Central Asia is distinctive in its role as a frontier region in which a unique diversity of cultural, religious, and political traditions exist. This collection of essays by expert scholars in a range of disciplines focuses on the formation of ethnic, religious, and national identities in Muslim societies of Central Asia, thus furthering our general understanding of the history and culture of this significant region. This study includes several geopolitical regions—Chinese Central Asia, Soviet Central Asia, Afghanistan, Transoxiana and Khurasan—and covers historical periods from the fifteenth century to the present. Drawing on scholarship in anthropology, religion, history, literature, and language studies, Muslims in Central Asia argues for an interdisciplinary, inter-regional dialog in the development of new approaches to understanding the Muslim societies in Central Asia. The authors creatively examine the social construction of identities as expressed through literature, Islamic discourse, historical texts, ethnic labels, and genealogies, and explore how such identities are formed, changed, and adopted through time.
Contributors. Hamid Algar, Muriel Atkin, Walter Feldman, Dru C. Gladney, Edward J. Lazzerini, Beatrice Forbes Manz, Christopher Murphy, Oliver Roy, Isenbike Togan
The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan while Chechnya still struggles under a shadow of violence, and the nations surrounding them are barely more stable. Add in the significant reserves scattered throughout Central Asia and you have a volatile political cocktail that makes the region, in Rob Johnson’s words, the “new Middle East.” In Oil, Islam and Conflict, Johnson provides an essential analysis of the region’s tumultuous history and uncertain future.
Johnson examines the problems that have plagued the region, including civil wars in Afghanistan and Tajikistan and burgeoning Islamist terrorist movements in several nations. He explains the complex role played by narcotics, ethnic tensions, and the potential wealth from oil and gas reserves in the region’s political maneuverings, and delineates the complex links between civil violence and the policies of Central Asian governments on such crucial issues as human rights, economic development and energy.
A timely investigation, Oil, Islam and Conflict will be required reading for all those invested in the threat of terrorism and the future of energy security.
“State weakness” is seen to be a widespread problem throughout Central Asia and other parts of postsocialist space, and more broadly in areas of the developing world. Challenging the widespread assumption that these “weak states” inevitably slide toward failure, Paradox of Power takes careful stock of the varied experiences of Eurasian states to reveal a wide array of surprising outcomes. The case studies show how states teeter but do not collapse, provide public goods against all odds, interact with societies in creative ways, utilize coercion effectively against internal opponents, and establish practices that are far more durable than the language of “weakness” would allow. While deepening our understanding of the phenomenon in Eurasia in particular, the essays also contribute to more general theories of state weakness.
Central Asia has long stood at the crossroads of history. It was the staging ground for the armies of the Mongol Empire, for the nineteenth-century struggle between the Russian and British empires, and for the NATO campaign in Afghanistan. Today, multinationals and nations compete for the oil and gas reserves of the Caspian Sea and for control of the pipelines. Yet “Stanland” is still, to many, a terra incognita, a geographical blank.
Beginning in the mid-1990s, academic and journalist David Mould’s career took him to the region on Fulbright Fellowships and contracts as a media trainer and consultant for UNESCO and USAID, among others. In Postcards from Stanland, he takes readers along with him on his encounters with the people, landscapes, and customs of the diverse countries—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan—he came to love. He talks with teachers, students, politicians, environmental activists, bloggers, cab drivers, merchants, Peace Corps volunteers, and more.
Until now, few books for a nonspecialist readership have been written on the region, and while Mould brings his own considerable expertise to bear on his account—for example, he is one of the few scholars to have conducted research on post-Soviet media in the region—the book is above all a tapestry of place and a valuable contribution to our understanding of the post-Soviet world.
An extraordinary man, who advanced human knowledge on many fronts, Sir Aurel Stein (1862-1943) pursued dramatic adventure with scientific purpose. Jeannette Mirsky has drawn from Stein's voluminous outpouring of books and articles as well as from his letters and unpublished archival materials to produce a lively and definitive biography of this archaeological explorer, geographer, historical topographer, and linguist.
"[Mirsky] has digested the correspondence, and she quotes so skillfully that her book will save many people the trouble of reading Stein's own exhaustive and exhausting volumes. Definitive."—Larry McMurtry, Washington Post
"A first-rate and unique biography of one of the more significant explorers of Central Asia and the Indo-Iranian borderlands. . . . Mirsky has recreated not only the life of an intrepid explorer but the spirit of the times."—Choice
"Mirsky has performed a signal service in distilling the life, travels, and letters of Aurel Stein into a manageable, graceful, and meaningful synthesis."—Theodore A. Wertime, Technology and Culture
They bear labels instead of names—noncombatant, unintended victim, collateral damage. Theirs are the blurred faces and forms seen in news footage shot from a moving vehicle. And when soldiers, media, and profiteers move on to the next conflict, they stay behind to cope amid the wreckage. They have stories to tell to anyone who will pause long enough to hear them.
In What Wars Leave Behind, J. Malcolm Garcia reveals the people and pain behind the statistics. He writes about impoverished families scraping by in Cairo’s city of the dead, ordinary Syrians pretending all is well as shells explode around them, and others caught in conflicts that rage long after the cameramen have packed up and gone away.
Garcia describes his travels in some of the world’s hotspots in Central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. In a series of personal travel essays that read like short stories, he exposes the endless messiness of war and the failings of good intentions, and he traces their impact on the lives of natives in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Kosovo, Chad, and Syria. He discovers amazing resilience among people who must struggle just to survive each day.
Garcia gives readers the sort of gritty detail learned from immersing himself in other cultures. He eats the food, drinks the tea, and endures the oppressive heat. These are the stories of how a middle-class guy from the Midwest with a social work degree learned to experience and embrace the cultures of Third World countries in conflict—and lived to tell the tale.