Central Asian Affairs is a peer-reviewed quarterly journal, ranked in Scopus and available in Open Access. It aims to feature innovative research on contemporary developments in the wider Central Asian region. Central Asian Affairs informs scholarly discourse on the region by drawing on a diverse array of disciplines including political science, sociology, anthropology, economics, development studies, and security studies.

Central Asian Affairs is committed to equity. We encourage authors to be sensitive to their own epistemic practices, including as reflected in their citations’ gender balance and representation of scholarship by authors from the country or countries under study.

Latest Available Issue: Volume 9 | Issue 1 | 2022

Introduction: The Mobilizing Potential of Communication Networks in Central Asia by Jasmin Dall’ Agnola and Colleen Wood

Authors: Jasmin Dall’ Agnola and Colleen Wood

Online Discourses in Post-Soviet Media: The Threat of the Islamic State in Central Asia

Author: Rano Turaeva

Abstract: This article contributes to the growing field of social media and internet research, focusing on questions of securitization and examining the internet politics of Central Asia with a specific focus on Turkmenistan. The article extends the brief analysis introduced by Tucker and Turaeva (2016) concerning Turkmen nationals joining IS (Islamic State). Here, I have contextualized those reported discussions into a wider geopolitical and sociological positioning of the participants (both individual and states) with the aim of uncovering the methods and principles that state and non-state actors use to construct discourses of threat and danger on social media and elsewhere on the internet. I argue that social media and the internet have moved beyond being a means for open communication and exchange; they have also come to be used by authoritarian states to suppress, control, and manipulate certain discourses. In the case of Turkmenistan, social media helps to control security discourse about the ISIS threat and the presence of Turkmenistani nationals in the group, even as it grants open access to information.

The Optics of Leadership: A Comparative Exploration of Uzbek and Tajik Presidential Posing on Instagram

Author: Cordelia Buchanan Ponczek

Abstract: How might a leader in Central Asia take a selfie? This paper explores the Instagram accounts of the presidents of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – two countries with authoritarian regimes and varying information and communications technology – in order to reach conclusions on the evolving role of social media in governance. Instagram offers a forum where the two presidents can project their personal leadership style, draw attention to official events, potentially interact with (or received interaction from) other accounts, and use national identity images as a part of their leadership role. These activities cater to domestic audiences as well as feed into the dynamics within the wider social media sphere. This paper explores how, even though the style and substance of the two leaders’ posts differs greatly, Instagram use opens a door to posturing for a virtual audience.

Rising Civic Awareness through Local Instagram: Young Kazakhstani Russians and Their Belongingness to Kazakhstan

Author: Marina Zhir-Lebed

Abstract: In this paper, we unpack theThe Russia-Ukraine conflict raised fears that Kazakhstani Russians outside of Russia could be mobilized by the idea of the Russkiĭ mir (Russian world), which has been actively spread on the Russian-speaking segment of social media. Although Russian- speaking social media are popular in Kazakhstan, the example of young Kazakhstani Russians demonstrates that social media usage strengthens the connection to Kazakhstan rather than to the historical “home” country. Being surrounded by visual and textual information related to Kazakhstani urban centers, local Russian youth begin to envisage and create their version of Kazakhstan based upon personal social media feeds. As a result, their civic awareness and sense of belonging to Kazakhstan raise and allow these young people to navigate and portray their national identity in a positive way.

Keeping Receipts: Lessons on Civic Engagement in Autocratic States from Kazakh Advocacy for Xinjiang

Author: Colleen Wood

Abstract: How do civil society actors in authoritarian states use the internet to mobilize and advocate for rights claims? The internet has changed the patterns of political communication for civil society actors, but the range of tactics used in autocracies remains undertheorized. In this paper, I analyze the activities of Atajurt Eriktileri, a group that petitions the Kazakhstani government on behalf of co-ethnics detained in Xinjiang, China. Empirically, I complement five semi-structured interviews with an interpretive analysis of 3,272 petition videos (an original dataset) posted to Atajurt’s YouTube channel. I identify four visual–discursive patterns and three scripts that characterize the petitions, which speak to Atajurt’s strategy of atomized collective action; this approach helps avoid the repression that comes with more traditional forms of mass mobilization. The hypervisibility of Atajurt’s social media presence challenges the dominant literature on civil society and resistance in authoritarian regimes that emphasizes hidden forms of contention.

“Tell Me Sister” – Social Media, a Tool for Women Activists in Tajikistan by Jasmin Dall’ Agnola

Author: Jasmin Dall’ Agnola

Abstract: Instagram is the world’s most popular social media tool among people under 29, including Central Asian youth. Despite the growing authoritarian grip on print and online media, more and more Tajik women are opening up on Instagram to counter the pernicious narrative that blames victims of sexual harassment and violence for speaking out against their harassers and abusers. So far, there is little research exploring the extent to which women Instagram bloggers are successful in influencing the wider female public’s perception of sexual harassment and violence. I seek to fill this gap by analyzing whether Tajik women’s exposure to information on social networks influences their awareness of sexual harassment and violence. The following article contributes to the growing body of literature discussing the transformative forces of digital activism in Central Asia by exploring empirical data gathered through a nationwide survey in Tajikistan. The results reveal the emancipatory potential of digital activism.

Volume 9 (2022)

Volume 8 (2021)

Volume 7 (2020)

Volume 6 (2019)

Volume 5 (2018)

Volume 4 (2017)

Volume 3 (2016)

Volume 2 (2015)


The Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan: Episodes of Islamic Ac-tivism, Postconflict Accommodation, and Political Marginaliza-tion by Tim Epkenhans

Power, “Original” Islam, and the Reactivation of a Religious Utopia in Kara-Suu, Kyrgyzstan by Aurélie Biard

Switching to Satr: An Ethnography of the Particular in Wom-en’s Choices in Head Coverings in Tajikistan by Marintha Miles


Sophie Roche, Domesticating Youth: Youth Bulges and their Socio political Implications in Tajikistan (New York, Oxford: Berghahn, 2014)

Table of Contents

Volume 1 (2014)

Editorial Committee at GW

Editor-in-Chief: Diana Kudaibergenova
Managing Editor: Sebastien Peyrouse
Senior Editorial Associate: Marlene Laruelle
Associate Editors: Henry Hale, Sean Roberts, Peter Rollberg

Editorial Board

Alexander Cooley, Tow Professor, Barnard College, Columbia University, USA
Andrei Kazantsev, Director of the Analytical Center, MGIMO, Moscow, Russia
Antonio Giustozzi, London School of Economics, United Kingdom
Diana Kudaiderbegova, Cambridge University, UK
Emil Nasritdinov, American University in Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan
Eric McGlinchey, Associate Professor, George Mason University, USA
Gardner Bovingdon, Assistant Professor, Indiana University Bloomington, USA
Nargis Kassenova, Senior Fellow at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies of Harvard University
Nazif Shahrani, Professor, Indiana University Bloomington, USA
Pauline Jones Luong, Professor, Michigan University, USA
Sally Cummings, Professor, Saint Andrew University, United Kingdom
Sergey Abashin, European University of St Petersburg, Russia
Tomohiko Uyama, Director, Slavic Research Center, Sapporo University, Japan