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Registration & Conference Fee
Where? – Information on Ghent & the Venue
Conference Calendar
Arrival info
Where to stay and What to do in Ghent?
Draft Program (to be updated in January 2021)
Photo exhibition

Call for applications is now Closed

Dates have been changed!

Held in Ghent (in Flanders, Belgium) from Wednesday 22 to Friday 24 September 2021. (dates have been changed)

The purposes of the event are threefold:

Firstly, to bring together scholars, students, interested members of the public and policymakers working on or interested in the Central Asian region to interact and, as such, strengthen a network of Central Asia-related research and -education in Europe.

Secondly, to show, by examining its identities and historical roots, societal and political dynamics, external interactions, and economy and environment, that the Central Asian region is not merely a passive object in abstract geopolitics, but that it also has histories, societies, identities and aspirations of its own.

Thirdly, examine what (potential) effects and impacts of developments in Central Asia, a region situated right beyond Europe’s eastern rim, have on the EU and Europe in general (and vice-versa).

Central Asia is defined here as the five Central Asia successor states of the Soviet Union (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan with Karakalpakstan), and the Chinese province of Xinjiang. However, participation to the event is certainly not limited to the audience of hardcore Central Asia specialists. We encourage cross-case thematic and comparative examinations and, thus, attendance and input by people who work or are interested in the field of EU studies, on Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, the Islamic world beyond Central Asia, China, …

The conference is interdisciplinary in the humanities (social and political sciences, history, anthropology, cultural and religious studies, social geography …).

Along with the ‘European handbook of Central Asian studies. History, politics and societies,’ which is going to be published in 2021 by ibidem-Verlag in Hannover, this conference is one of the key outcomes of the EISCAS consortium, It offers three days of keynote lectures, round tables and thematic panels.


This conference is co-funded by the Erasmus Plus program of the European Union.

Our official PARTNERS are:

WIKISTAN – an organic community of Central Asia scholars that welcomes new members – (no membership fee required)

European Society for Central Asian StudiesESCAS – a longstanding informal cooperation network of Central Asian scholars

Centre for Anthropological Studies on Central AsiaCASCA – A new center for anthropological research and collaboration based in Switzerland and Germany.

Novostan.org – An expert French-German language news organization providing critical views on contemporary Central Asian Developments.

We also want to say a special ‘thank you’ to the Central Eurasian Studies Society – CESS, the H2020 SEnECA project on EU-CA relations, and Central Asia Inside OutCASIO for helping us spreading the word and their informal support.



(Pan-)Europe and Central Asia: a natural complementarity?

  • Fabienne Bossuyt, CEUS-Universiteit Gent, on the EU and its policies towards the Central Asian region (exact title to be confirmed).
  • Jonathan Holslag, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, on the EU and the former USSR vis-à-vis China (exact title to be confirmed).

Are the colonial and postcolonial paradigms applicable to the Central Asian region? by Svetlana Gorshenina (Alerte Héritage, France)

External soft power exercising in Central Asia: how is it shaping the (perception of) the region, by Sébastien Peyrouse (George Washington University, USA)

The role and relevance of film in contemporary national and historical consciousness in the region: looks at Kazakhstan by Rico Isaacs (School of Social and Political Sciences, Lincoln University – chapel) – (Discussant: Yelena Kharitonova, Central-Asian European Creative Alliance)


Three decades of post-Socialist transformation: a view from below (to be updated)

  • Peter Finke, University of Zurich (Moderator)

Does Central Asia (still) needs international development aid? (to be updated)

  • Karolina Kluczewska, Justus-Liebig-University of Giessen (Discussant)
  • Bruno De Cordier, Conflict Research Group, Universiteit Gent (Moderator)


Central Asian Studies in Europe: Questioning Hierarchies in Knowledge Production – Organized by the CASIO network

Moderators: Davlatbegim Mamadshoeva, Mariya Petrova, Saltanat Shoshanova

Recently numerous discussions and online publications emerged that criticize inequalities in the established system of academic knowledge production about Central Asia. Hierarchical relations between Western European/North American and Central Asian scholars, extractive research practices, intellectual alienation of local scholars, domination of English as the only “recognized” language for scientific publications – are some of the topics that were raised.

Which role should Central Asian Studies in Europe play in this discussion? How do different national- and European research institutions, scholarly traditions and languages impact our work? How can they help us critically assess the current situation in order to build up equal and solidary cooperation?

During this workshop scholars are invited to discuss these issues, rethink their own positions and exchange strategies to challenge the persistent imbalance in academia and beyond.


The perceived geopolitics of sexuality and gender in Eastern Europe, and (possible) impacts on Central Asia by Laura Luciani, CEUS-Universiteit Gent

  • Rano Turaeva-Hoehne, LMU München / Max Planck Institute (Discussant)
  • Baktybek Kainazarov, Women program Officer (IREX, RepresentWomen, etc.) (Discussant)

Muslim hagiographic experiences in the former USSR and popular democracies – moderated by Stéphane Dudoignon (CNRS, France) 

Central Asia, an exotic world for European media – special panel organized by Novostan.org

  • Etienne Combier, co-founder Novostan
  • Florian Coppenrath, co founder, editor-in-chief (German version)

When reading European media reports about Central Asia in Europe, you often stumble upon similar topics, encompassed in tag-words such as “authoritarian,” “Islamic,” “clans,” “Silk Road,” etc. Instead of fostering an understanding of the region and making it readable for a European audience, such articles tend to underline how Central Asia is essentially different. In this panel discussion organized by the online newspaper ‘Novostan,’ we will introduce an overview of the main clichés associated with Central Asia and discuss how they come up and what effects they have.

The making of resilient communities in Central Asia – Special panel organized by the COMPASS project, moderated by Elena Korosteleva (Kent University)

  • Change, ‘the Local’ and ‘the Peoplehood’: What makes Central Asian communities resilient in hamsoya?’ (Elena Korosteleva, University of Kent & Irina Petrova, University of Kent, UK)
  • ‘Bouncing Back: The value of glocal resilience and Sufi-hamsoya’ (Nargis T. Nurulla-Khodzhaeva, Moscow State University, Russia)
  • High Roads in High Asia: Looking for cultural resilience amidst increasing connectivity in ‘zomia’ (Mike Crang, Durham University, UK)
  • ‘“I am Tajik!” Identity, Community and Selfhood among the Tajik youth’ (Farrukh N. Salimov, Tajik National University, Tajikistan & Diana T. Kudaibergenova, University of Cambridge, UK)

International cooperation in Central Asia and wider Eurasia – Special panel organized by the COMPASS project, moderated by Akram Umarov (University of World Economy and Diplomacy (UWED), Uzbekistan)

  • ‘Eurasian Economic Union: integration or cooperation?’ (Roza Turarbekova, Belarus State University, Belarus)
  • ‘Energy factor in Indian foreign policy towards Central Asia’ (Ilkhomjon Muminov, UWED, Uzbekistan)
  • ‘EU-CA: Impact of the pandemic on cooperation priorities’ (Nargiza Sodikova, UWED, Uzbekistan)
  • ‘Understanding local resistance to the EU foreign policy in Azerbaijan’ (Anar Valiyev, ADA University, Azerbaijan)
  • ‘Bad governance in Kyrgyzstan: the implications of a rentier state?’ (Akram Umarov, UWED, Uzbekistan)


We invite proposals for papers, presentations and creative input for the twenty panels clustered in five thematic clusters.

Economy and environment• natural resources and economic diversification
• environment and ecology
• agriculture and rural development
• urbanization and urban development
Governance, state and politics• leadership, succession and society
• state-building
• international relations, international orientations and soft power
• securitization and defense
Societal-identitarian dynamics• official and grassroots national identities
• dynamics of religion, religious identification and (post-)secularism
• ethnic and social minorities
• patterns, dynamics and impacts of migrations
Culture and/in society• traditional folk and popular culture and the ‘high-arts’
• language and language-and-alphabet policies
• sports, society and national identity
• cultural impacts of globalization and counter-reactions
Social situations and dynamics• demography, population and families
• informal economy and coping mechanisms
• the state and dynamics of public health
• the state and dynamics of education and research

IMPORTANT NOTE: Papers on Xinjiang and Mongolia are welcome if they touch upon the topics listed in the sessions

REGISTRATION – now closed

• the conference language is English
• There is a limit of two papers per person. If you want to submit a second paper, please repeat the application from the beginning after finalizing your first paper abstract. The pool of first submissions will have priority over second submitted papers abstracts during selection.

Attending the conference without presenting is possible, but registration is now closed. We have a foreseen a (limited) number of places for such participants. Likewise there is no conference fee, but your eventual attendance will be conditional on two issues:

  • Time of registration (first come first serve)
  • Confirmation of registration (all planning to attend must confirm their participation a couple weeks before the event, only then will they be issued a final confirmation from the organizers).

Number of events realized

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