Lexington Books Series

Contemporary Central Asia. Societies, Politics and Cultures

Central Asia, located at the crossroads of Russia, China, and the Islamic world, remains one of the world’s least-understood regions, despite being a significant theater for muscle-flexing by the great powers and regional players. This series, published in partnership with George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, offers deep insights into Central Asia by providing readers unique access to state-of-the-art expertise on the region. Going beyond media clichés, the series brings the study of Central Asia into the framework of social sciences and hopes to overcome the dearth of works on the region for both scholarly knowledge and undergraduate and graduate student education.

Now accepting submissions!

To be considered for publication, please contact Professor Laruelle, [email protected] and send an outline of your manuscript.

The outline should include:

  • a statement on the book’s goals and methods
  • a detailed table of contents
  • a one-paragraph biography of author(s)
  • a sample chapter or an introduction
  • a prospective deadline for submission
Proposal Guidlines

The Central Asia–Afghanistan Relationship. From Soviet Intervention to the Silk Road Initiatives

EDITED BY MARLENE LARUELLE – CONTRIBUTIONS BY GULDEN ASHKENOVA; ALEXANDER DIENER; ANTONIO GIUSTOZZI; ARTEMY M. KALINOVSKY; MARLENE LARUELLE; BRUCE PANNIER; SEBASTIEN PEYROUSE; GAEL RABALLAND; BOTA RAKISHEVA AND EKATERINA STEPANOVA

Central Asia is a relatively understudied neighbor of Afghanistan. The region is often placed into a number of historical and political contexts—a section of the Silk Road, a pawn in the “Great Game,” the “spillover” state that exemplifies the failure of US foreign policy—that limit scholarly understanding.

This edited volume contributes by providing a broad, long-term analysis of the Central Asia–Afghanistan relationship over the last several decades. It addresses the legacy of Soviet intervention with a unique first-hand selection of interviews of former Soviet Central Asian soldiers that fought in the Soviet–Afghan War. It examines Afghanistan’s norther neighbors, discussing Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan—their strategy for Afghanistan, their perception of challenges and opportunities of the country, and patterns of cooperation and conflict. The collection also looks at recent US strategic initiatives in the region, in particular the New Silk Road Initiative that envisions a growing Central Asia–South Asia connection.

Table of Contents and Introduction (pdf)

Eurasia’s Shifting Geopolitical Tectonic Plates. Global Perspective, Local Theaters

ALEXANDROS PETERSEN – FOREWORD BY S. FREDERICK STARR

This anthology of articles, short studies, and interviews by Alexandros Petersen were written over the span of ten years, starting in 2004. Yet they are even more relevant today in their prescient analysis. Petersen insightfully addressed the implications of the West withdrawing its engagement from the Caucasus and Central Asia, the expansion of the Chinese influence, and Russia’s strategic interests.

The collection is organized along four main topics: (1) Eurasia and a changing transatlantic world: the world politics of shifting frontiers in the post-Soviet world; (2) Energy geopolitics in the Caspian and beyond, with its crucial implications for European energy security; (3) the Black Sea world, covering the dynamics of Russia, Turkey, and the South Caucasus, including the role of NATO and frozen conflicts in the region; (4) the new silk roads: China’s inroads in Central Asia, which is often overlooked in the West but will be critical for the geopolitical balance of powers.
 

Rewriting the Nation in Modern Kazakh Literature. Elites and Narratives

DIANA T. KUDAIBERGENOVA

Rewriting the Nation in Modern Kazakh Literature is a book about cultural transformations and trajectories of national imagination in modern Kazakhstan. The book is a much-needed critical introduction and a comprehensive survey of the Kazakh literary production and cultural discourses on the nation in the twentieth and twenty first centuries. In the absence of viable and open forums for discussion and in the turbulent moments of postcolonial and cultural transformation under the Soviets, the Kazakh writers and intellectuals widely engaged with the national identity, heritage and genealogy construction in literature. This active process of national canon construction and its constant re-writing throughout the twentieth century will inform the readers of the complex processes of cultural transformations in forms, genres and texts as well as demonstrating the genealogical development of the national narrative. The main focus of this book is on the cultural production of the nation. The focus is on the narratives of historical continuities produced in the literature and cultural discontinuities and inter-elite competition which inform such production.

The development of Kazakh literary production is an extremely interesting yet underrepresented field of study. Since the late nineteenth century it saw a rapid transformation from the traditional oral to print literature. This brought an unprecedented shift in genres and texts production as well as a rapid growth of the ‘writing’ class – urban colonial and first generations of Soviet intelligentsia. Kazakh literary production became the flagman of republic’s rapid cultural modernization and prior to the World War II local publishing industry produced up to 6 million print copies a year. By the 1960s and 1970s – the golden era of Kazakh literature, the most read literary journal Juldyz sold 50,000 copies all over the country. Literature became the mass provider of knowledge about the past, the present and of the future of the country. Because “Kazakh readers were hungry to find out about their pre-Soviet past and its national glory” national writers competed in genres, styles and ways to write out the nation in prose, poems, essays and historical novels.

 

Kazakhstan in the Making. Legitimacy, Symbols, and Social Changes

kazakhstan-in-the-making

EDITED BY MARLENE LARUELLE – CONTRIBUTIONS BY ULAN BIGOZHIN; ALIMA BISSENOVA; DOUGLAS BLUM; ALEXANDER C. DIENER; NATALIE KOCH; DIANA T. KUDAIBERGENOVA; MARLENE LARUELLE; MATEUSZ LASZCZKOWSKI; SEBASTIEN PEYROUSE; MEGAN RANCIER; ASSEL TUTUMLU; WENDELL SCHWAB AND KRISTOPHER WHITE

Kazakhstan is one of the best-known success stories of Central Asia, perhaps even of the entire Eurasian space. It boasts a fast growing economy—at least until the 2014 crisis—a strategic location between Russia, China, and the rest of Central Asia, and a regime with far-reaching branding strategies. But the country also faces weak institutionalization, patronage, authoritarianism, and regional gaps in socioeconomic standards that challenge the stability and prosperity narrative advanced by the aging President Nursultan Nazarbayev. This policy-oriented analysis does not tell us a lot about the Kazakhstani society itself and its transformations.

This edited volume returns Kazakhstan to the scholarly spotlight, offering new, multidisciplinary insights into the country’s recent evolution, drawing from political science, anthropology, and sociology. It looks at the regime’s sophisticated legitimacy mechanisms and ongoing quest for popular support. It analyzes the country’s fast changing national identity and the delicate balance between the Kazakh majority and the Russian-speaking minorities. It explores how the society negotiates deep social transformations and generates new hybrid, local and global, cultural references.

Table of Contents and Introduction (pdf)

The Origins of the Civil War in Tajikistan. Nationalism, Islamism, and Violent Conflict in Post-Soviet Space

TIM EPKENHANS

In May 1992 political and social tensions in the former Soviet Republic of Tajikistan escalated to a devastating civil war, which killed approximately 40,000-100,000 people and displaced more than one million. The enormous challenge of the Soviet Union’s disintegration compounded by inner-elite conflicts, ideological disputes and state failure triggered a downward spiral to one of the worst violent conflicts in the post-Soviet space. This book explains the causes of the Civil War in Tajikistan with a historical narrative recognizing long term structural causes of the conflict originating in the Soviet transformation of Central Asia since the 1920s as well as short-term causes triggered by Perestroika or Glasnost and the rapid dismantling of the Soviet Union. For the first time, a major publication on the Tajik Civil War addresses the many contested events, their sequences and how individuals and groups shaped the dynamics of events or responded to them. The book scrutinizes the role of regionalism, political Islam, masculinities and violent non-state actors in the momentous years between Perestroika and independence drawing on rich autobiographical accounts written by key actors of the unfolding conflict. Paired with complementary sources such as the media coverage and interviews, these autobiographies provide insights how Tajik politicians, field commanders and intellectuals perceived and rationalized the outbreak of the Civil War within the complex context of post-Soviet decolonization, Islamic revival and nationalist renaissance.

Table of Contents and Introduction (pdf)

Afghanistan and Its Neighbors after the NATO Withdrawal

Afghanistan and its Neighbors

EDITED BY AMIN SAIKAL AND KIRILL NOURZHANOV – CONTRIBUTIONS BY SHAHRAM AKBARZADEH; CHRISTIAN BLEUER; MICHAEL CLARKE; REUEL R. HANKS; NARGIS KASSENOVA; EMILIAN KAVALSKI; KIRILL NOURZHANOV; SEBASTIEN PEYROUSE; AMIN SAIKAL; NAZIF SHAHRANI; MEENA SINGH ROY; MAHMADYUSUF TASHRIFOV AND ALY ZAMAN

The planned reductions in NATO troop numbers in Afghanistan through 2015 and a final withdrawal at the end of 2016 brings up numerous pressing questions about the security and national interests of not just Afghanistan, but of the broader region itself. The problem of a chaotic Afghanistan—or of an outright Taliban victory—is of great concern to not only immediate neighbors such as Iran, Pakistan, and the former Soviet Central Asian republics to the north, but also to those countries in the region with Afghanistan-related security or economic concerns, such as China and India. Further abroad, Russian, American and European interests and plans for dealing with the fallout from Afghanistan must also be taken into account as these major powers have enduring interests in Afghanistan and the region. This volume puts the prospects for short- and mid-term security dynamics at the core of the analysis, with each case being placed in its proper contemporary historical, economic, and political context. The book will offer a truly comprehensive, nuanced, and timely account of the security situation in and around Afghanistan.
 

Integration in Energy and Transport. Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey

integrationenergytransport

ALEXANDROS PETERSEN – FOREWORD BY ROY ALLISON

The South Caucasus has established itself as a corridor for transporting energy from Azerbaijan to Georgia, Turkey, and on to Europe, symbolized by the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline. This new infrastructure has created an east-west “Eurasian bridge” in which transnational extra-regional actors, especially the European Union and international financial institutions, have played a critical role. This book offers an original exploration of integration in the energy and transport sectors amongst Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey, and the capacity of this to fundamentally change relations between these countries. In the period studied, from the mid-1990s to 2008, integration in energy and transport did not result in broader political, security, and sociocultural integration in any significant way. The author sets his analysis in a theoretical framework, drawing on theories of integration, but also grounds it in the detailed, empirical knowledge that is the measure of true expertise.

Table of Contents and Introduction (pdf)

Kyrgyzstan beyond “Democracy Island” and “Failing State”. Social and Political Changes in a Post-Soviet Society

Kyrgyzstand Beyond

EDITED BY MARLENE LARUELLE AND JOHAN ENGVALL – CONTRIBUTIONS BY DIANA ASANALIEVA; AISALKYN BOTOEVA; ASEL DOOLOTKELDIEVA; JOHAN ENGVALL; DAVID GULLETTE; JOHN HEATHERSHAW; SHAIRBEK JURAEV; MARLENE LARUELLE; ERICA MARAT; DAVID W. MONTGOMERY; EMIL NASRITDINOV; MADELEINE REEVES; ELMIRA SATYBALDIEVA; REGINE A. SPECTOR AND BERMET ZHUMAKADYR KYZY

Kyrgyzstan is probably the best known of any central Asian country, the one that has elicited the most academic publications, reports by NGOs or advocacy groups, and op-eds in the media. The country opened up massively to Western influence through development aid for civil society and for economic reforms, faced two revolutions in 2005 and 2010, and experienced bloody interethnic conflict in 2010. Kyrgyzstan is therefore commonly studied as a twin case: that of having been, for more than two decades, both an “island of democracy” in Central Asia—and the only country of the region to have made the transition to a parliamentary regime—and the archetypical example of a “failing state,” one marked by endemic corruption, criminalization of the state apparatus, and collapse of public services. This volume goes beyond these two clichés and provides a research-based and unideological narrative on the country. It identifies political dynamics, their powerbrokers, and the role of international organizations; investigates the profound social transformations of both the rural and the urban worlds; and examines the broad feeling, by local actors, that Kyrgyzstan’s fragile state identity should be consolidated. This book gives the floor to the new generation of scholars whose long-term vernacular-language field research made it possible to provide new interpretative prisms for the complex evolution of Kyrgyzstan.