Events Calendar

The Islamic Mediascape in Central Asia
Oct 2 @ 9:00 AM – 3:45 PM
The Islamic Mediascape in Central Asia @ Lindner Family Commons (Room 602)

9:00-11:00 AM, Session 1: The Evolution of Religious and Irreligious Media

Eren Tasar (University of North Carolina)
Casting a Wide Net: Islamic Media in Central Asia under Atheism
Shahnoza Nozimova (George Mason University); Tim Epkenhans (University of Freiburg)
The Transformation of Tajikistan’s Religious Field: From Religious Moderation to Authoritarian Salafism
Maria Louw (Aarhus University)
Atheism 2.0: Finding Spaces for Atheism in Contemporary Kyrgyzstan

Coffee break: 11:00-11:30 AM

11:30 AM-1:00 PM, Session 2: Muslim Heroes and Models

Benjamin Gatling (George Mason University)
Heritage or Zombies: Saints and anti-Saints on Tajik Television
Ulan Bigozhin (Nazarbaev University)
“Where Is Our Honor?”: How Sport Is Used to Create Masculine Authority or Kazakh Muslims

Lunch: 1:00 PM-1:45 PM

1:45 PM-3:45 PM, Session 3: Islamic Debates in the Media

Noah Tucker (Radio Ozodlik)
Shaykh Google, Salafi Plov, Midnight Soccer: Debating Islamic Authority in the Internet Age in Southern Kyrgyzstan 
Wendell Schwab (Pennsylvania State University)
Shariah Law and Ancient Turkic Traditions: The Rhetoric of Islamic Debates in Kazakhstani Mass Media
Diana Kudaibergenova (Lund University)
Digital Islam and Contemporary Art in Central Asia: Visualizing and Performing Islam
This workshop is part of the CERIA Initiative, generously funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.
What Lies ahead for Kyrgyzstan after the Presidential Elections?
Oct 19 @ 12:00 PM – 12:00 PM
What Lies ahead for Kyrgyzstan after the Presidential Elections? @ Elliott School of International Affairs, 5th floor, room 505
Kadyr Toktogulov, Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United States
Erica Marat, National Defense University
Eric McGlinchey, George Mason University
Paul Stronski, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Kyrgyzstan’s Presidential Elections on October 15, 2017, have been particularly competitive, with tensions running high between the two main contenders, Omurbek Babanov and Sooronbai Jeenbekov. Several post-election factors will shape the future direction of the country, both domestically and internationally. How will the winner and the looser manage their post-election relationship? In what way will the political landscape be reshuffled? Answers to these questions will influence several critical issues such as ethnonationalism, migration, and Kyrgyzstan’s relationship with Russia, the West, and the Central Asian neighbors. Join our four experts to discuss the elections’ results, the way the campaign was mediated, its significance for the future of Kyrgyzstan, and implications for the U.S.

In partnership with RFE/RL
Light lunch will be served
Islam and the State in Central Asia – a Friedrich Ebert Foundation Report
Nov 6 @ 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM
Islam and the State in Central Asia - a Friedrich Ebert Foundation Report @ Room 412 Q (Voesar room)

Dr. Sanat Kushkumbayev (Deputy Director, Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan) will present the latest report of the Almaty club (a Central Asia Policy Group) on Islam and the State in Central Asia.

Comparing Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, the report analyzes evolution in legislation, the secularization of Islam, Islamic education, and the revival of public piety (the use of the veil). This presentation will be in Russian, with translation in English.

Support for the report was provided by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.


Deciphering the Notion of “Uzbek Terrorists”
Nov 15 @ 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM
Deciphering the Notion of "Uzbek Terrorists" @ Voesar Conference Room (412 Q)

with Alisher Siddique, Director of RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service

In 2017, four terrorist attacks were carried out by Uzbek citizens or people of Uzbek origin in several Western cities. Contrary to the media discourse, Uzbekistan is not a hotbed of terrorism, nor does it “export terrorists.” However, many Uzbek nationals leave Uzbekistan for work, becoming labor migrants. How and why did some Uzbek migrants get radicalized in different contexts–the U.S., Europe, and Russia? How does the evolving political climate in Uzbekistan change the state’s relationship to Islam? What are some possible answers to the challenge of migration integration?

In partnership with RFE/RL

Light lunch will be served

CAP Cinema Club Presents: Shal (Kazakhstan, 2012) by Ermek Tursunov
Nov 16 @ 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
CAP Cinema Club Presents: Shal (Kazakhstan, 2012) by Ermek Tursunov @ Room 412Q (Voesar)

Based on Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea,” this Kazakhstani Oscar submission tells the story of Kasym, an old shepherd who lives on the remote steppes of Kazakhstan. The old man loves international soccer, horses, his flock and family and tries to bond with his grandson Erali. In the spirit of Hemingway’s original text, Kasym uses every trick up his sleeve to survive the elements and out with the wolves.


The Afghan Shi’i Movement: Revolutionary Politics and Global Islam
Nov 17 @ 1:45 PM – 3:00 PM

With Prof. Robert Crews

The leftist coup in Afghanistan in 1978 and the Iranian revolution of 1979 unleashed a radical political movement among the Afghan Shia. Since 2001, this movement has achieved new momentum, and Afghan Shi’i activism has become central both to Afghan national politics and to global Shi’ism. This talk examines how Afghan Shi’i elites imagined a revolutionary project that would transform Islam and the Afghan nation – and explores how this project continues to shape the wider region today.

Prof. Robert D. Crews is an historian whose research and teaching interests focus on Afghanistan, Central and South Asia, Russia, Islam, and Global History. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he received an MA from Columbia University and a PhD degree in History from Princeton University. His work has appeared in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and The New York Times. His course offerings include “The Global Drug Wars,” “The Islamic Republics: Politics and Society in Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan,” and “Modern Islamic Movements.” His latest research project explores Shia politics in Afghanistan.

Co-sponsored by the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, the Institute for Middle East Studies, and the Central Asia Program




Afghanistan: America’s Forgotten War: A Panel Discussion
Nov 28 @ 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Afghanistan: America's Forgotten War: A Panel Discussion @ Room 602 (6th floor)
Deepa Ollapally, Research Professor of International Affairs and Associate Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, GW
Speakers include:
Benjamin Hopkins, Director, Sigur Center for Asian Studies; Associate Professor of History and International Affairs, GW
Marlene Laruelle, Research Professor of International Affairs; Director, Central Asia Program; Associate Director, Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, GW
Stephen Biddle, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, GW
The United States has now been at war in Afghanistan for sixteen years. There remains no clear end to the conflict in sight. While the Trump Administration promised a new direction in American policy towards the country, the Administration appears to have decided to stay the course for the most part. There are approximately 12,000 publicly acknowledged American troops in the country whose main responsibility is executing a program of train and equip, which puts Afghan forces on the front lines with American support as necessary. Given the past decade and a half, what are the options for the United States in Afghanistan? How viable is the current Afghan government and continuing American commitment to it? And what are the interests and policies of Afghanistan’s neighbors, most importantly Pakistan, as the war grinds on? With expertise in the region’s politics and history, as well as American policy, this panel considers the present state of play.
Global Powers and Competing ‘Fixes’ in Central Asia
Dec 11 @ 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM
Global Powers and Competing ‘Fixes’ in Central Asia @ Room 412Q (Voesar)
Dr. Balihar Sanghera, Director of Graduate Studies (Taught),
Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Kent; George F. Kennan Fellow, Woodrow Wilson Center 
This presentation examines how the US, Russia, and China have proposed different development visions for Central Asia. While it is common to frame these visions in exclusionary or conflictual terms (such as market reforms versus state controls, the dominant Western hegemony versus rising powers, or the core versus the semi-periphery), Dr. Sanghera will argue that they reflect a shared imperative to tackle and fix structural contradictions inherent in advanced and newly capitalist economies. In this respect, there is a family resemblance among the competing fixes, rather than strong differences of economic and political ideologies. Central Asia has become an important space for global powers to shape and contest the future direction of capitalism. Drawing upon a qualitative study of international financial institutions in the region, Dr. Sanghera will also examine how Central Asian states strategically respond to different social fixes to address their own economic and political needs, often in ways that are unstable and contradictory.
The 10th CAP Fellows Seminar “Peacebuilding and Civic Literacy in Central Asia and South Caucasus”
Dec 14 @ 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM
The 10th CAP Fellows Seminar "Peacebuilding and Civic Literacy in Central Asia and South Caucasus" @ Room 505


4:00 – 5:30 PM, Session 1: New Perspectives on Grassroots Peacebuilding

Diana Mamatova (former Project Coordinator, the United Nations in Kyrgyzstan) Grassroots Peacebuilding: Cross-Border Cooperation in the Ferghana Valley

Jafar Usmanov (former Lead Researcher at ACT Development Group, Tajikistan) Youth as Agents of Peace at the Tajik-Kyrgyz Border

Jeyhun Valiev (Independent Researcher, Azerbaijan) Assessing the Impact of NGO Peacebuilding Programs in the South Caucasus:
the Case of Nagorno-Karabakh

Break: 5:30 – 5:45 PM

5:45 – 6:45 PM, Session 2: Empowerment through Civic Literacy in Kazakhstan

Karlygash Kabatova (Astana Paper-Lab ResearchGroup, Kazakhstan) Overcoming a Taboo: Normalizing Sexuality Education in Kazakhstan

Anna Gussarova (Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies)
Countering Extremism versus Freedom of Online Expression: the Case of Kazakhstan

Reception: 6:45 – 8:00 PM

Towards a New Uzbekistan? The Magnitude, Impact and Limitations of Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s Reforms
Jan 24 @ 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Towards a New Uzbekistan? The Magnitude, Impact and Limitations of Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s Reforms @ Room 412Q (Voesar)

Since taking office in September 2016, the new President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev has initiated many reforms, ranging from economic and social policies aimed at improving the investment climate and the education and health systems to domestic and foreign policy changes aimed at eliminating any cult of personality, providing greater freedom of media and expression, and improving relations with neighboring States.

The pace and scope of the initiatives have taken many academics and experts by surprise and raises several questions. Are these reforms sustainable, and how do they impact the lives of Uzbekistani citizens? What are the consequences for relations between Uzbekistan and the international community? Do they provide an opportunity for Western countries to strengthen their relations with Uzbekistan and to improve their image, in the country?

Four panelists will discuss these issues with a focus on specific areas that President Mirziyoyev has targeted for reform, including civil society (Sean Roberts, GWU), economic development (Eric Rudenshoild, USAID), media (Navbahor Imamova, Voice of America) and education (Sebastien Peyrouse, GWU).