8:30 Breakfast and Registration
9:00 Introductory Remarks by Marlene Laruelle, Director, Central Asia Program
9:15-10:45 Session I. Lessons Learned and Unlearned for the US Silk Road Strategy
Chair and Moderator: Peter Rollberg (George Washington University)
Alexander Diener (The University of Kansas)
Mobilities and Immobilities in Central Eurasia: A Geographical Perspective on the New Silk Road
Marlene Laruelle (George Washington University)
“Silk Road”: Historical Metaphor, Ideology, Wishful Thinking?
Gael Raballand (Choiseul Institute) and Sebastien Peyrouse (George Washington University)
An Economic Assessment of the Potentialities of the US Silk Road
11:15-12:45 Session II. Presidential successions. Real and False Stakes
Chair and Moderator: Cory Welt (George Washington University)
Eric McGlinchey (George Mason University)
Goodbye Karimov, Hello Status Quo
Sean Roberts (George Washington University)
Nur-Otan as a Vehicle for Presidential Succession: Turkey’s CHP or Russia’s Yedinaya Rossiya?”
Myles Smith (Media Sustainability Index at IREX)
The Stakes of Successions: Turkmenistan and Elite Redistribution
1:30-3:00 Session III. Peeking behind the Iron Curtain: Uzbekistan in 2014 and Beyond
Chair and Moderator: David Abramson (State Department)
Laura Adams (Harvard University), Sarah Kendzior (Al-Jazeera English services), Lawrence Markowitz (Rowan University), and Noah Tucker (Managing Editor, Registan.net)
3:45-5:15 Session IV. The Missing Piece: Small and Medium Business Circles
Chair and Moderator: Marlene Laruelle (George Washington University)
Gul Berna Özcan (University of London)
The Political and Moral Economy of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in Central Asia
Regine Spector (University of Massachusetts)
Made in Kyrgyzstan: The Reassembling of Apparel Manufacturing in a Peripheral State
Alexander Libman (Frankfurt School of Finance & Management)
The Small and Medium-sized Enterprises world in Kazakhstan and the Implications of the Customs Union
Uzbekistan is at the core of Central Asia. It is the region’s demographic power with close to 30 million inhabitants, its second-largest economic power behind Kazakhstan thanks to its cotton production and still developed industrial network, and a key cultural and historical power. However, since the early 2000s, Uzbekistan increasingly became a kind of ‘black hole’ in terms of scholarly research.
The country’s growing isolationism, the authoritarian hardening of the regime, and its shutting out of researchers have all worked to hinder the ability to conduct fieldwork, thus affecting our knowledge of the country’s domestic evolutions. Nonetheless a new form of knowledge about Uzbekistan has noticeably arisen, and stems from the Uzbek diasporas scattered throughout the world, including Russia, Europe, and the United States. These Uzbek communities abroad provide news from the ground that attests to a quickly evolving societal fabric, as well as to new cultural and socio-economic dynamics at the grassroots level.
In this context it is time to generate a kind of introspective approach of what have we have learned over the last two decades. This two-day conference brings together some of the main scholars to have contributed to our knowledge of Uzbekistan. The aim is to open a genuine discussion about the approaches used to analyze the country’s society, politics and identities.