Events Calendar

CANCELLED: The Social Organization of the Unspoken: Informal Organizations in Tajik/Afghan Badakhshan with author Suzanne Levi-Sanchez @ Lindner Family Commons, 6th floor
Apr 17 @ 12:30 PM – 1:45 PM

Suzanne Levi-Sanchez presents her forthcoming book (University of Michigan Press) on the relationships between informal organizations and the state, civil society, and kinship networks along the Tajik/Afghan border. Her fieldwork spans six years on both sides of Tajik/Afghan Badakhshan, researching how local leaders and organizations impact border and state stability as well as drug, human, weapons, and gemstone trafficking. Through detailed case studies, her work reveals how informal organizations provide a buffer from state control.

Suzanne Levi-Sanchez, PhD, is the Assistant Professor for National Security Affairs at U.S. Naval War College. She is an experienced educator, field researcher, and analyst with subject matter expertise in Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia, political identity, informal institutions, local leadership, borders, ethnographic methods, and gender.



The European Union’s New Strategy for Central Asia: An Early Assessment with Fabienne Bossuyt @ Voesar Conference Room, Suite 412
Apr 23 @ 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM

Although the European Union’s engagement with Central Asia has remained limited, the EU’s role in the region has evolved from an invisible and arguably ineffective donor to that of a full-fledged actor over the past fifteen years. Nevertheless, the EU still punches below its weight in the region. Because the EU’s strategy for Central Asia, developed in 2007, became increasingly outdated and subject to criticism from a wide range of stakeholders, a new strategy will be launched in May 2019. In this talk, Fabienne Bossuyt provides an early assessment of this new strategy. She evaluates whether the new strategy enables the EU to optimize its role as an external actor in Central Asia and ensure that the EU’s involvement in the region produces tangible and lasting results, effectively contributing to the sustainable development.

*Chatham House Rule applies*

Fabienne Bossuyt is Assistant Professor at the Centre for EU Studies at Ghent University (Belgium). Her main area of expertise is EU’s relations with Central Asia. Her current research projects focus on aspects of the EU’s relations with and policies towards Central Asia and other post Soviet countries, including democracy promotion, development policy and human rights promotion. She is currently coediting a book on the EU-Russia relationship (Brill), as well as a book on the EU’s and China’s engagement with Central Asia (Routledge). She has been involved in the preparation of the EU’s new strategy for Central Asia, including as rapporteur for the EU Special Representative for Central Asia and as policy advisor, inter alia, for the German and French MFAs.


Russia’s Islamic Diplomacy: Institutions, Informality, and Believers @ Lindner Family Commons (6th Floor)
Apr 29 @ 10:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Russia’s Islamic Diplomacy: Institutions, Informality, and Believers @ Lindner Family Commons (6th Floor)
9:30-11:00am Panel 1. Russia and Islamic Institutions Abroad
Mark N. Katz (George Mason University)
Always Looming: The Russian Muslim Factor in Moscow’s Relations with Gulf Arab States
Clement Therme (International Institute for Strategic Studies)
Russia and the Islamic worlds: the case of Shia Islam
Denis Sokolov (Center for Strategic and International Studies)
Political Groups in Russia’s Islamic Clergy and their Activities at the Regional, National, and International Level
11:00-11:30am Coffee Break
11:30-1:00pm Panel 2. Russia’s Religious Para-Diplomacy
Guzel Yusupova (Durham University)
Tatarstan’s Paradiplomacy with the Islamic world
Jean-Francois Ratelle (Ottawa University)
A Kadyrovization of Russian Foreign Policy In the Middle East: Autocrats in Track-two Diplomacy and other Humanitarian Activities
Marlene Laruelle (The George Washington University)
Russia’s Soft Power toward the Muslim World
1:00-1:45pm Lunch
1:45-3:15 pm Panel 3. Identity, Economics and Politics of the Hajj from Russia
Mikhail A. Alexseev (San Diego State University)
Effect of the Hajj Pilgrimage to Mecca on Socio-Political Views of Muslims in Russia’s North Caucasus
Sufian N. Zhemukhov (The George Washington University)
Hajj in Russia: State Policy and Industry Management
Azat Akhunov (Kazan Federal University)
The Economics of Hajj: The Case of Tatarstan
The Initiative “Islam in Russia, Russia in the Islamic World” is generously funded
by the Henry Luce Foundation


What Next? Improving Counter-Extremism Programs in Central Asia @ Elliott School of International Affairs, Room 505
May 8 @ 10:00 AM – 11:15 AM
What Next? Improving Counter-Extremism Programs in Central Asia @ Elliott School of International Affairs, Room 505
While the Islamic State lost its physical territories in Syria and Iraq, the grievances that drove thousands of Central Asians into its ranks remain. Since 2014, a range of international actors, including the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations, spent millions of dollars on counter-extremism projects in Central Asia. Yet, problems remain in the way actors approach extremism conceptually and in program implementation. International donors’ increased interest in counter-extremism pushes local NGOs to frame an array of unrelated issues as tied to radicalization and violent extremism. Meanwhile, regional governments blur the distinctions between societal Islamization and political radicalization, grouping political activists, non-violent extremists and violent extremists together in one category. This creates challenges for development actors looking to operate in the region with the permission of local governments.
To help address these issues, the Program on Extremism and Central Asia Program at GWU will convene a roundtable on May 8, 2019 featuring three experts on extremism in Central Asia. During the discussion, panelists will discuss several questions about counter-extremism programming in Central Asia:
  • How can international actors develop programs to address these issues?
  • How can we define divergent forms of extremism in ways that allow us to address issues of intolerance and societal violence?
  • Where do we draw the line between violent and non-violent extremism?
  • How can the donor community work with civil society to ensure that the issues being addressed derive from local concerns rather than the interests of international donors?
Bennett Clifford, Research Fellow, Program on Extremism
Dr. Marlene Laruelle, Director, Central Asia Program; Associate Director, Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, Elliott School of International Affairs
Dr. Edward Lemon,  DMGS-Kennan Institute Fellow, Daniel Morgan Graduate School; Global Fellow, Wilson Center
Noah Tucker, Senior Editor for the Uzbek Service (Ozodlik), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

To register for the event, please click here.

The Rise of Social Media in Central Asia – Spring 2019 CAP Fellows Seminar Series @ Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 1779 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036
May 9 @ 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM
The Rise of Social Media in Central Asia - Spring 2019 CAP Fellows Seminar Series @ Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 1779 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036
The influence of social media in Central Asia has expanded rapidly in recent years. While restrictions on media continue to plague the region, the influence of social media on the population, especially young people, is growing. Crucial debates on the values society should accept, the rise of native language journalism and social activism are all now happening online. The latest analysis of the power that social media has in a variety of forms will be presented from experts from the field. Join us for a presentation and open discussion to learn more about how social media will influence the future of Central Asia.
Mirakmal Niyazmatov is an immigration and human rights attorney. He holds LL.M and J.S.D. degrees from Notre Dame Law School. In 2013, Mirakmal helped to co-found Tashabbus Inc., a Washington, DC-based NGO dedicated to strengthening the rule of law in Uzbekistan. He is currently serving as its President.
Eldar Asanov is a linguist and journalist whose research at GW is dedicated to the problems of mass media, censorship and public debate in Uzbekistan. He extensive experience working in Uzbek media in digital and print journalism as well as in television. He is also a founder of the popular scientific blog “Asanov Format”. He was an editor and project manager at the “” news portal and participates in the Internews Network and EU joint grant on opposing violent extremism in Central Asia. He earned a BA in Mass Media and an MA in Public Relations from National University of Uzbekistan and a PhD in Applied Linguistics at Tashkent State University.
Elmurat Ashiraliev researches the mediascape in Kyrgyz Republic as a visiting fellow at The George Washington University. He is a journalist at Kloop Media, an independent Kyrgyz media outlet, which covers topics including politics, human rights, and corruption. As a part of the Kloop Media team, Elmurat served as the Kyrgyz editor for the UNDEF and UNESCO supported “Community Media Centers” projects. He is a member of the “Esimde” team which researches history and memory of the Kyrgyz Republic. Elmurat earned an MA in Central Asian Studies from American University of Central Asia in 2016.