Central Asian Affairs is a peer-reviewed quarterly journal. It aims to feature innovative research on contemporary developments in the wider Central Asian region. Its coverage includes Central Asia, Afghanistan, the Caucasus, Xinjiang, Kashmir, neighboring powers (China, Iran, Pakistan, India, Russia, Turkey), and the role of leading international powers and donors in this region. Central Asian Affairs informs scholarly discourse and policy discussions on the region by engaging experts from across the policy and academic arenas, drawing on a diverse array of disciplines including political science, sociology, anthropology, economics, development studies, and security studies.

Latest Available Issue: Volume 7 | Issue 1 | 2020

The Bureaucratization of Islam in Azerbaijan: State as the Principal Regulator and Interpreter of Religion

Kamal Gasimov
Middle East Studies Department, University of Michigan
gasimov@umich.edu

Abstract

This article examines the politics of bureaucratization of Islam that the Azerbaijani government initially implemented in the mid-2000s and which has intensified after 2011. First, the state superimposed its bureaucratic categories on the Muslim communities of the country. Then, it proceeded to transform local religious figures into state employees. Yet, at the same time, the government insists that it does not interfere into theological issues and that all of its bureaucratic initiatives are aimed at ensuring freedom of belief and protecting the public order. However, with time, the process of bureaucratization has shifted from regulation to a direct administrative and ideological intervention into the religious space aimed at creating a state-imagined “orthodoxy” designated as traditional Islam. This article draws on previously untapped primary sources to discuss the different ideological and political aspects of this bureaucratically initiated tradition and its pervasive and transformative influence on the local religious landscape.


Understanding Factors behind Regional Inequality in Education in Kazakhstan

Aigerim Kopeyeva
King’s College, London
a.t.kopeyeva@gmail.com

Abstract

There are significant regional disparities in students’ outcomes in Kazakhstan. Whilst there has been progress in the overall quality of secondary education, large-scale assessments demonstrate a gap in knowledge of several years between certain Southern and Western regions when compared to the top-performing city of Almaty.

The author analyzed country data from TIMSS 2015 using the Learning-adjusted years of schooling (LAYS) measure developed by the World Bank along with an expert survey to understand the factors behind this disparity across the country. The author’s analysis suggests that this situation can be caused by the lack of specific regional education development policies, the language of instruction in school, and the poor socioeconomic development of the region in the first place. There are also indications that students in the disadvantaged regions might be less motivated, which can affect their academic achievement. The author proposes a two-stage policy intervention to improve the chances for good childhood education across regions.


Secondary Schools and Inequality: Navigating the Fragmented Landscape of Educational Choices in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Aigoul Abdoubaetova
OSCE Academy, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Abstract

This research aims to describe how parents navigate secondary education choices in Bishkek in the context of diverse school choice options. The paper uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, which include interviews and a complementary survey with parents. The paper provides an overview of the state of school options in Bishkek, explores parental motivations in choosing schools, and engages in a wider debate about educational inequality. By examining parental school choices and motivations, the research reveals that inequality in secondary education in Bishkek is multilayered and depends on how families can utilize their resources: parents with larger resources in the form of financial, social, and cultural capital are most advantaged, while the majority of under-resourced families are left with little choice and schools of poor quality. This state of affairs has strong implications for the growing socio-economic inequality and creates additional cleavages between social groups.


Volume 7 (2020)

ARTICLES

The Bureaucratization of Islam in Azerbaijan: State as the Principal Regulator and Interpreter of Religion by Kamal Gasimov

Understanding Factors behind Regional Inequality in Education in Kazakhstan by Aigerim Kopeyeva

Secondary Schools and Inequality: Navigating the Fragmented Landscape of Educational Choices in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan by Aigoul Abdoubaetova

BOOK DISCUSSION

Artemy Kalinovsky, Laboratory of Socialist Development: Cold War Politics and Decolonization in Soviet Tajikistan

Table of Contents
ARTICLES

Love and Jihad. Female Trajectories from North Caucasus to the Islamic State by Denis Sokolov

“Franchise” Branch Campuses in Uzbekistan: The Internationalisation of Higher Education as a Solution? by Dilnoza Ubaydullaeva

State Reforms and Informal Payments in Secondary Education of Kazakhstan by Dina Sharipova

BOOK DISCUSSION

Diana T. Kudaibergenova, Rewriting the Nation in Modern Kazakh Literature: Elites and Narraves

Table of Contents
ARTICLES

Madrasa-based Religious Learning: Between Secular State and Competing Fellowships in Kyrgyzstan by Asel Doolotkeldieva

Choikhonai Surkh: The Replacement of “Opium Dens” with Red Teahouses and the Limits of the Soviet Enlightenment Project in Tajikistan by Alisher Latypov

Exclusion, Enmity, and the Normalization of the Exception: The September 2015 Incidents and the Development of Sovereign Dictatorship in Tajikistan by Edward Lemon and Omid Rahimi

BOOK DISCUSSION

Hélène Thibault, Transforming Tajikistan: State Building and Islam in Post-Soviet Central Asia (London: I. B. Tauris, 2018).

Table of Contents

Volume 6 (2019)

ARTICLES

Changing Perceptions of Informal Payments under Privatization of Health Care: The Case of Kazakhstan by Natsuko Oka

Iran’s New Cultural Nationalism: Iranian Cultural Diplomacy in Tajikistan by Lukas Anderson

An Investigation of Journalists’ Job Satisfaction in Bishkek, Capital of the Kyrgyz Republic by Bahtiyar Kurambayev

BOOK DISCUSSION

Nick Megoran, Nationalism in Central Asia: A Biography of the Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan Boundary (Pittsburgh, pa: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017), 368 pp.

Table of Contents
ARTICLES

Introduction to the Islamic Mediascape in Central Asia by Wendell Schwab

Islamic Media in Soviet Central Asia by Eren Tasar

Islam and Cultural Heritage on Tajik Television by Benjamin Gatling

The Transformation of Tajikistan’s Religious Field: From Religious Pluralism to Authoritarian Inertia by Shahnoza Nozimova and Tim Epkenhans

The Rhetoric of Islamic Debate in Kazakhstani Mass Media by Wendell Schwab

“Where is Our Honor?” Sports, Masculinity, and Authority in Kazakhstani Islamic Media by Ulan Bigozhin

Atheism 2.0: Searching for Spaces for Atheism in Contemporary Kyrgyzstan by Maria Louw

Religion, Power, and Contemporary Art in Central Asia: Visualizing and Performing Islam by Diana T. Kudaibergenova

Table of Contents
ARTICLES

Regenerating Life: The Power of Reproducing People in Desert Turkmenistan by Cara Kerven

Shaping Historical and Cultural Heritage in Uyghur Children: A Case Study on the Book Series Bilqut Balilar Shexs Hëkayiliri by Giulia Cabras

Carried by Migrants– Frictions of Migration and Mobility Patterns in the Conflicting Assemblage of the Russian Private Transport Sector by Tonio Weicker

BOOK DISCUSSION

Review of Natalie Koch, The Geopolitics of Spectacle: Space, Synecdoche, and the New Capitals of Asia (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2018).

Table of Contents

Volume 5 (2018)

ARTICLES

Leadership Succession in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan: Between Stability and Instability by Slavomir Horak

Nation-Building and a School Play in a Kazakh Saint’s Jubilee by Ulan Bigozhin

The Socio–Economic Life around Beans in Kyrgyzstan: Practices, Discourses and Local Households by Gulnora Iskandarova

Informal Economies in the Post-Soviet Space: Post-Soviet Islam and Its Role in Ordering Entrepreneurship in Central Asia by Rano Turaeva

BOOK DISCUSSION

M. Laszczkowski, “City of the Future”: Built Space, Modernity and Urban Change in Astana (New York: Berghahn Books, 2016)

Table of Contents
ARTICLES

The Fabric of Answer: Constructing a National Façade by Sophie Roche

How Relations Make Persons: Rituals Accompanying Childbirth and Socialization of Infants in Kyrgyzstan by Swetlana Torno

Women, the Parliament and Political Participation in Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan by Cholpon Turdalieva and Medet Tiulegenov

Talking about and Doing Elections: The Shaping of a Local Electoral Field in Western Afghanistan by Said Reza Kazemi

BOOK DISCUSSION

Johan Engvall, The State as Investment Market: Kyrgyzstan in Comparative Perspective (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016)

Table of Contents
ARTICLES

Nation, Religion, and Theology: What Do We Mean When We Say “Being Kyrgyz Means Being Muslim?” by Vincent M. Artman

Islam, Morality and Public Education: Religious Elements of Ethics and Etiquette in the Uzbek School Curriculum by Donohon Abdugafurova

Local Politics and Patronage of a Sacred Lineage Shrine in Kazakhstan by Ulan Bigozhin

Mediatization of Religion in Kyrgyzstan: Diffusion of Religious Authority and Changing Perceptions of Religion by Nurbek Bekmurzaev

BOOK DISCUSSION

Alexander Cooley and John Heathershaw, Dictators Without Borders: Power and Money in Central Asia (New Haven, ct: Yale University Press, 2017)

Table of Contents
ARTICLES

Polycentricity of Linguistic Landscape and Nation-Building in Post-Soviet Kazakhstan by Aisulu Kulbayeva

Kazakh Land, China Capital: Exporting China’s Project System to External Geographies by Tristan Kenderdine

The Changing Landscape of (Political) Islam in Azerbaijan: Its Contextual Underpinnings and Future Prospects by Murad Ismayilov

BOOK DISCUSSION

Regine A. Spector, Order at the Bazaar: Power and Trade in Central Asia (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2017)

Table of Contents

Volume 4 (2017)

ARTICLES

Two Countries, Five Years: Islam in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyz-stan through the Lens of Public Opinion Surveys by Barbara Junisbai, Azamat Junisbai and Baurzhan Zhussupov

Uncertainty Perpetuated? The Pitfalls of a Weakly Institutionalized Party System in Kyrgyzstan by Asel Doolotkeldieva and Alexander Wolters

Toward Smart City Development in Central Asia: A Compara-tive Assessment by Farrukh Irnazarov

BOOK DISCUSSION

Adeeb Khalid, Making Uzbekistan: Nation, Empire, and Revolution in the Early USSR (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2015)

Table of Contents
ARTICLES

Re/Claiming Bishkek: Contestation and Activism in the City of Two Revolutions by Emil Nasritdinov and Philipp Schröder

From Shanghai to Iug-2 … and What Now? Traces of (Re-)Claiming Bishkek from Multitemporal Fieldwork in Kyrgyzstan by Philipp Schröder

Ala-Too as the Main City/Country Square: Changing Forms, Uses, and Meanings by Natalya Kosmarskaya, Artyom Kosmarsky and Guzel Sabirova

Making Property in Kyrgyzstan: Bishkek’s Urban Periphery as Redistributive Space by Craig Hatcher

Dynamics of Reciprocity and Networks of the Kyrgyz through Bishkek Toi Making by Cholpon Turdalieva and Rene Provis

The War of Billboards: Hijab, Secularism, and Public Space in Bishkek by Emil Nasritdinov and Nurgul Esenamanova

Table of Contents
ARTICLES

How “Muslim” are Central Asian Muslims? A Historical and Comparative Enquiry by Galina M. Yemelianova

Playing Cosmopolitan: Muslim Self-fashioning, Migration, and (Be-)Longing in the Tajik Dubai Business Sector by Manja Stephan-Emmrich

BOOK DISCUSSION

Sergei Abashin, Sovetskii kishlak: mezhdu kolonializmom i modernizatsiei (Moscow: NLO, 2015)

Table of Contents
ARTICLES

Contemporary Public Art and Nation: Contesting “Tradition” in Post-Socialist Cultures and Societies by Diana T. Kudaibergenova

“Between Europe and Asia”: Geography and Identity in Post-Soviet Nation-Building Narratives by Joshua Kucera

From Once-dominant Minority to Historical Christian Outpost on the Southern Caspian: Azerbaijan’s Orthodox Christians by Bruno De Cordier and Cristina Boboc

Assessing China’s New Policy in Afghanistan by Akram Umarov

BOOK DISCUSSION

David Radford, Religious Identity and Social Change: Explaining Christian Conversion in a Muslim World (New York: Routledge, 2015)

Table of Contents

Volume 3 (2016)

ARTICLES 

From Frunze to Bishkek: Soviet Territorial Youth Formations and Their Decline in the 1990s and 2000s by Emil Nasritdinov and Philipp Schröder

Promoting Justice Reforms in Central Asia: The European Un-ion’s Rule of Law Initiative as Part of a Comprehensive Democ-ratization Strategy? by Vera Axyonova

International Aid, Frontier Securitization, and Social Engineer-ing: Soviet–Xinjiang Development Cooperation during the Gov-ernorate of Sheng Shicai (1933–1944) by Bruno De Cordier

BOOK DISCUSSION

Svetlana Peshkova, Women, Islam, and Identity: Public Life in Private Spaces in Uzbekistan (Syracuse,NY: Syracuse University Press, 2014).

Table of Contents
ARTICLES

Hijab in a Changing Tajik Society by Shahnoza Nozimova

(Re)constructing Muslim Identities from the Soviet Past: Muslim Tatar Women’s Stories of Soviet Moral Selves by Liliya Karimova

Uzbekness and Islam: A Survey-based Analysis of Identity in Uzbekistan by Yaacov Ro’iandAlon Wainer

The Soviet State and Lineage Societies: Doctrine, Local Interac-tions, and Political Hybridization in Kazakhstan and Kirghizia During the 1920s and 1930s by Isabelle Ohayon

BOOK DISCUSSION

Kelly M. McMann, Corruption as a Last Resort: Adapting to theMarket in Central Asia (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2014)

Table of Contents
ARTICLES

Leadership Succession, Great Power Ambitions, and the Fu-ture of Central Asia by Eric McGlinchey

Tajikistan’s Bureaucratic Management of Exclusion: Responses to the Russian Reentry Ban Database by Malika Bahovadinova

Revolution in the Counter-Revolution: Efforts to Centralize the Taliban’s Military Leadership by Claudio Franco and Antonio Giustozzi

BOOK DISCUSSION

Stéphane Dudoignon and Christian Noack, eds.Allah’s Kol-khozes. Migration, De-Stalinisation, Privatisation and the New Muslim Congregations in the Soviet Realm (1950s–2000s) (Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 2014)

Table of Contents
ARTICLES

Visual Culture and Islam in Kazakhstan: The Case of Asyl Arna’s Social Media by Wendell Schwab

The “Personality Cult” Problematic: Personalism and Mosques Memorializing the “Father of the Nation” in Turkmenistan and the UAE by Natalie Koch

Islamic Finance and the State in Central Asia by Alexander Wolters

BOOK DISCUSSION

Jesse Driscoll, Warlords and Coalition Politics in Post-Soviet States (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015)

Table of Contents

Volume 2 (2015)

ARTICLES

Introduction by David W. Montgomery

Bad Medicine by Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili

Islam beyond Democracy and State in Kyrgyzstan by David W. Montgomery

Islam, Fun, and Social Capital in Kazakhstan by Wendell Schwab

Twenty-five Somonis for a Good Future by Sophie Roche

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry, and Damn the Dictatorship by Russell Zanca

Table of Contents
ARTICLES

Elite Management in Electoral Authoritarian Regimes: A View from Bashkortostan and Tatarstan by Gulnaz Sharafutdinova

Who Gets What, When and How? Housing and Informal Institutions in the Soviet Union and Post-Soviet Kazakhstan by Dina Sharipova

What It Takes to Avert a Regional Crisis: Understanding the Uz-bek Government’s Responses to the June 2010 Violence in South Kyrgyzstan by Alisher Khamidov

Unexpected Frontiers of Black Internationalism: African Ameri-cans in Soviet Central Asia, 1930–1976 by Athan Andreas Biss

BOOK DISCUSSION

Marlene Laruelle and Sébastien Peyrouse The Chinese Ques-tion in Central Asia: Domestic Order, Social Change, and the Chinese Factor (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012)

Table of Contents
ARTICLES

The Modern Chinese State and Strategies of Control over Uy-ghur Islam by Rémi Castets

Religion, Repression, and Traditional Uyghur Culture in South-ern Xinjiang: Kashgar and Khotan by Michael Dillon

Uyghurs on Chinese Social Networking Sites: The Creation and Destruction of Ethnic Youth Culture by Nathan Light

Paradoxes of Hegemonic Discourse in Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan: History Textbooks’ and History Teachers’ Attitudes toward the Soviet Past by Damira Umetbaeva

BOOK DISCUSSION

Madeleine Reeves, Border Work: Spatial Lives of the State in Rural Central Asia (Ithaca, NY:  Cornell University Press, 2014)

Table of Contents
ARTICLES

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

BOOK DISCUSSION

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

Table of Contents

Volume 1 (2014)

ARTICLES

Policing Public Protest in Central Asia by Erica Marat

Mining Junior, Major Political Risks by J. Edward Conway

Post-Soviet Transformations of Health Systems in the South Caucasus by Sophie Hohmann and Cécile Lefèvre

Afghanistan’s decentralised regional foreign policy by Antonio Giustozzi

The View Across the Durand Line by Shaun Gregory

Assessing Uzbekistan’s and Tajikistan’s Afghan Policy by Marlene Laruelle

Post-2014 Afghanistan Policy and the Limitations of China’s Global Role by Elizabeth Wishnick

BOOK DISCUSSION

Morgan Y. Liu, Under Solomon’s Throne: Uzbek Visions of Re-newal in Osh

Table of Contents
ARTICLES

Moving Toward the Brink? Migration in the Kyrgyz Republic by Paul Fryer, Emil Nasritdinov and Elmira Satybaldieva

The Politics of the Taliban’s Shadow Judiciary, 2003–2013 by Antonio Giustozzi and Adam Baczko

Competition and Benefit Sharing in the Ferghana Valley: Soviet Negotiations on Transboundary Small Reservoir Construction by Mariya Pak and Kai Wegerich

Mediating the Conflict in the Rasht Valley, Tajikistan: The Hege-monic Narrative and Anti-Hegemonic Challenges by Edward Lemon

Kazakhstan and the Global Nuclear Order by Togzhan Kassenova

Proliferation Challenges in Central Asia and the Need for Inter-national Cooperation by Dauren Aben

BOOK DISCUSSION

Lawrence Markowitz, State Erosion. Unlootable Resources and Unruly Elites in Central Asia

Table of Contents

Editorial Committee at GW

Editor-in-Chief: Marlene Laruelle
Managing Editor: Sebastien Peyrouse
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