May 20 @ 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
with Navbahor Imamova, Voice of America
The emergence of the Internet and the growing participation of people, especially youth, in social media constitute positive change for Central Asia. Uzbekistan as well as the other four countries in the region – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan – has become more connected to the world than ever before. Despite wide-ranging political restrictions and bans, the flow of information through social media is unstoppable. While some debate whether these governments could shut down access to social media altogether to curtail politically sensitive discussion, this author contends that by doing so, they would be making a serious and ultimately unsuccessful gamble. What drives the audience is the quality of the content and the way it is communicated. What keeps people engaged is the sense of forward motion, the anticipation of what will come next and having a desire to shape it. The power and promise of social media for Central Asia is that it gives an unprecedented opportunity for critical thinking and the discussion of the region’s challenging realities to a wider audience than had hitherto been possible.
May 30 @ 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
with Anita Sengupta, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies, Kolkata, India
The Turkish Model or the Turkish Developmental Alternative was promoted in the Central Asian Republics immediately following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The Model emphasised the ideal of a ”secular, democratic, liberal society”as a model for the post- Soviet Turkic world and in the process encouraged a”Turkic” rhetoric that emphasized connection between the two regions based on acommon ancestry. While Turkey was presented as ‘’the’’ model of development fora vast region there was also the emergence of a critique of this ‘’modern’’ model from within the state itself particularly in terms of how the Turkish state continued to exclude certain groups from its definition of who constitutes its “relevant’’citizen. Gezi Park and subsequent events within Turkey have brought into questionthe democratic credentials of the state. This presentation questions the myth andrhetoric of a model that emerges in the face of transitions and recedes asalternatives emerge from within.