RFE/RL, CAP Associate
Kazakhstan Producer of “Not in Our Name,” RFE/RL project
Strategia Sociological Center, former CAP fellow
NAC-NU Postdoctoral fellow, GWU
Pennsylvania State University
This roundtable panel will present and discuss preliminary results from new fieldwork, focus groups and video interviews conducted in 2017 and 2018 at urban and rural sites on increasingly bitter and politicized religious divisions in Kazakh society, competing visions of religious authority and how Kazakhstan’s stark economic inequalities can be interpreted from an Islamic perspective.
Drawing on interviews and materials collected over multiple trips to Zhezkazgan, Satpayev, and Kengir, we will also explore why some residents from specific communities embraced the radical vision of violent “social justice” and separation offered by Jihadi Salafism and ISIS, why they left in surprisingly large numbers to fight in foreign civil wars in Syria and Iraq, and how the divisions that remain in these communities may lead to new conflicts in the future.
Ph.D. candidate in International Politics and Sociology
Department of Social Sciences
Oxford Brookes University
This presentation seeks to explore the concepts of legitimacy and legitimation and how they relate to regime self-legitimation in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. Legitimation and legitimacy in authoritarian contexts needs to be understood as a three-part process. The first concerns ‘inputs’: the narratives, discourses and claims of legitimation on behalf of the regime. The second aspect is the process of legitimation: the ways in which actors use and apply these claims in relation to a broader society. Finally, there are ‘outputs’: the extent to which the application of claims about the right to rule is ‘believed’ by the population. It is impossible to make generalized claims about the extent to which citizens in authoritarian states believe in the legitimacy of rulers because it is very difficult to discern genuine beliefs in such closed political contexts. Thus, the main focus is on conceptualizing authoritarian claims of self-legitimation.
The presentation is based on an upcoming book chapter from “Theorizing Central Asia” (Palgrave Macmillan), co-authored with Dr. Rico Isaacs (Reader in Politics, Oxford Brookes University).