A series of supporting online video-recorded lectures presenting handbook topics in an accessible way for learners and teachers. These can serve as e-learning materials for the handbook. – See other materials

Below you will find a series of expert lectures on Central Asian history, politics and society. These lectures, given by CAS experts and scholars thematically overlap with the forthcoming handbook. (Once our Open Access handbook is published, this overlap will become clear.)

The lectures are normal length, academic lectures (about 90 min each), targeted at Master student level, on topics crucial to understand various aspects of Central Asian political culture and history.

Our experts have designed them around specific topics and balance their narrative between detailed insights and the larger picture, which is optimal for class-based lectures. They are uploaded on YouTube and thus easy to share.

This list of lectures is not complete, and more are to be recorded in the upcoming months. You can subscribe directly to our Eurasian Insights channel if you want to receive notifications in the future.

Lectures on Central Asian Societies

Abel Polese – Memory, identity and informal nationalism in post-Soviet spaces

The lecture is about how identity is constructed, reproduced, accepted with focus on Central Asia and former Soviet spaces. It shows that identity construction is not only a top-down process performed by political elites but it is renegotiated at the bottom level by middle actors and common people.

Abel Polese – Informality in post-Soviet spaces, from corruption to its political significance

The lecture looks at informality in both its economic and political significance. It suggests that informality (and the degree to which it Is present in a country), can be used as a proxy of quality of governance in that country

Bhavna Dave – Labour Migration from Central Asia to Russia: Laws, Policies and Effects

The lecture examines key legal, institutional mechanisms and informal processes that characterise labour migration from Central Asia to Russia. It explains how Russia has emerged as a major destination for labour migrants from Eurasia in last two decades and details processes that have led to the shift from an informal to a coercive regulation of labour migration in Russia, leading to an increasing securitization of migration. It describes the laws and policies that in fact make it difficult for migrants to obtain a fully legal status in the face of pervasive corruption and anti-migrant attitudes fuelled by state officials and media. Finally, it discusses the effects of labour migration on the sending states, their social structures and family, the debates about Islam-based radicalization of Muslim migrants in Russia and concludes with some observations on the prospects for integration of migrants in Russia.

Jeremy Smith – Ethnicity, Class & Clan Politics in Central Asia

Central Asian countries are, for most of the time, ruled with a firm hand by well established leaders. But societies remain divided along ethnic, social, and traditional lines. Rulers both need to keep these divisions in check and are able to exploit them to reinforce their own positions and mobilise popular support. This lecture explores the relevance of ethnicity, class and clans in Central Asia, as well as dispelling common myths about them. It introduces the general concepts before explaining how they operate in politics, and then goes into some case studies where these factors have been most visible in post-Soviet Central Asia.

Lectures on Central Asian History

Bruno De Cordier – The Original Islamization of Central Asia (650-1000)

This lecture basically explains how the Central Asian region acquired its present religious geography. It examines how the Islamic faith and -ideology, which originated in Arabia and began as an essentially Bedouin movement, was implanted and spread in Central Asia in a time span roughly from the mid-seventh century to the year 1000. It goes deeper into the factors, circumstances and the societal actors which enhanced the conversion to a new faith, and into the question how this faith eventually remains a central element of social and cultural self-identification among the majorities of the region’s populations and societies many centuries after the departure of its original bearers and champions.

Lectures on Central Asian Politics

Scott Newton – Law, Constitutionalism and the Central Asian State

Constitutionalism in Central Asia is flourishing—only not as unconventionally understood. Constitutional structure and dynamics are essential both to the instrumentality (the network governance or patronalism common to post-Soviet systems) and the performativity (the legitimation procedures of both ‘liberal market democracies’ and internal state-building) of the Central Asian state. This lecture examines the centrality of constitutionalism for Central Asian state development both in utero (the constitutional architecture and dynamics of the USSR) and post-partum.

Luca Anceschi – Political Economy of Central Asia

This lecture profiles the political economy of resources and trade in post-Soviet Central Asia, paying particular attention to the series of legacies bequeathed by the Soviet dissolution over the development of independent economic structures and strategies in Central Asia.

Adrien Fauve – Parties and Elections in Central Asia

This lecture is about the role of political parties and elections in authoritarian regimes, based on cases from Central Asia. Several concepts are introduced to the audience: presidential continuity (leaders remain in power despite the collapse of the Soviet Union), presidential longevity (rulers stay a long time in office) and constitutional instability (reforms are implemented to consolidate authoritarianism). Finally, the lecture proposes a comparative framework named “4+1 pattern,” meaning that in many respects, Central Asia demonstrates strong similarities between four countries, which in turn underline one contrasting case, but the latter can vary depending on the examined issue (longevity in Kyrgyzstan, continuity in Tajikistan etc.).

Slavomír Horák – Historical Geopolitics of Central Asia

This lecture proposes a critical view on geopolitics, the history of the principal geopolitical concepts and the history of geopolitics regarding the Central Asian region. It provides a critical assessment of the classical geopolitics as a highly volatile and biased discipline while mentioning critical geopolitics as scientific rather than the practitioner’s issue. The topic raises several geopolitical concepts that involved the Central Asian region as an example. Then it leads to the historical overview of Central Asian which covers a kind of “geopolitics before the geopolitics” and proving that classical geopolitics existed from the earliest history of the region. The lecture demonstrates insight (in-out) perception of the region as well as external (out-in) geopolitical and geostrategic views on the region in the past and today.

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