NAC-NU Central Asia Studies Program

NAC-NU Central Asia Studies Program

GWU’s Central Asia Program (CAP), Nazarbayev University and the National Analytical Center (NAC) have launched the NAC-NU Central Asia Studies Program.

The Program will develop state of the art research and act as a hub for research on and in Central Asia. Over 2017 and 2018, the Program will work on 5 topics:

China’s OBOR project and its impact for Central Asia;

External and internal migrations in Central Asia;

Economic diversification in Central Asia;

Youth and national identity in Central Asia; and

Exchange rate policy and macroeconomic policy framework in Central Asia.


Third Call for Papers: Youth and National Identity in Central Asia

In the framework of the NAC-NU Central Asia Studies Program, Nazarbayev University, the National Analytical Center (NAC), and GWU’s Central Asia Program (CAP) are happy to announce a call for the third research project: “Youth and National Identity in Central Asia.”

Papers should present relevant and innovative analytical frameworks on youth and national identity in Central Asia. Papers should be written in English only and be between 5,000 and 6,000 words, using Chicago-style endnotes.


The selection will be divided into two tracks: one for young scholars (those who have not received their PhD yet), and the other for confirmed scholars (those who obtained their PhD before 2015, hold a post-doctoral or professorship position, and have several publications on the topic). Confirmed scholars will submit a research paper AND mentor a young scholar working on a related topic (through reading article drafts and conducting sessions via skype).

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS: 2-3 page CV and research proposal, 5 pages (Times New Roman, font size 11, single-spaced)

A research proposal should have the following elements:

  1. A well-developed topic description;
  2. A clear research question(s);
  3. A well-articulated hypothesis/argument(s);
  4. A methodology section;
  5. A short literature review;
  6. A summary of the applicant’s previous research on the topic.


  • March 23, 2018: Deadline for application
  • April 9, 2018: Results announced
  • May 30, 2018: First draft due
  • July 30, 2018: Second draft due
  • September 1, 2018: Final paper due


An honorarium of USD 2,000 will be award upon submission of the final draft and after acceptance of the draft by the Advisory Board.


An honorarium of USD 4,000 will be awarded upon submission of the final draft, acceptance of the draft by the Advisory Board, and confirmation of the mentoring duties performed.

Madina Bizhanova To what extent and how can the Silk Road Economic Belt contribute to economic diversification of Kazakhstan?

Aziz Burkhanov Impact of Chinese Silk Road Strategy on National Identity Issues in Central Asia

Bhavna Dave Silk Road Economic Belt: Effects of China’s Soft Power Diplomacy in Kazakhstan

Paulo Duarte China in theHeartland: The One Belt One Road challenges and opportunities for Central Asia

Vera Exnerova Supporting China´s OBOR Initiative: Transnational Ties and Local Society´s Role in Improving the PRC Image in Central Asia

Azad Garibov Contemporary Chinese Labor Migration and Its Public Perception in Central Asia: The Case of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

Safovudin Jaborov Chinese Loans in Central Asia: Development Assistance or “Predatory Aid”?

Marek Jochec and Janat Jenishova Chinese Investment in the Framework of the Belt & Road Initiative in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan: Current Situations, Challenges, and Perspectives

Sobir Kurbanov The Importance of Anticorruption, Trade and Investment Climate Reforms in Central Asia in the Context of China One Belt One Road Project

Sarah Lain The Potential and Pitfalls of Connectivity along the Silk Road Economic Belt

Gaukhar Nursha Chinese Soft Power in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan: A Confucius Institutes Сase Study

Yelena Sadovskaya and Leah Utyasheva Human Silk Road – People-to-people aspect of the Belt and Road Initiative: a perspective from Central Asia

Hao Tian China’s Conditional Aid and Its Impact in Central Asia

Kemel Toktomushev One Belt, One Road: A New Source of Rent for Ruling Elites in Central Asia?

Alexander Wolters Hegemonial or Multilateral? Chinese Investments and the OBOR Initiative in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan

Visiting Fellows on “External and internal migrations in Central Asia” (Spring 2018)

Ajar Chekirova is a PhD candidate at the Department of Political Science at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Her dissertation entitled “Citizens undocumented: the legacy of communist migration policy and new urban spaces in Kyrgyzstan and China”, investigates the effects of the enduring communist era policies aimed at rural-to-urban migration control: propiska in the former Soviet Union and hukou in China. Her research has been sponsored by the Open Society Foundation, PEO International Peace Scholarship, and Dean’s Fellowship among others. Ajar holds MA degree in International Affairs from Ohio University, where she was a Fulbright Fellow. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in law from Peking University in China.


Nazira Sodatsayrova is a Ph.D. student in Special Program in Japanese and Central Eurasian Studies (1+3 Combined MA and Ph.D. Program) at University of Tsukuba, Japan. Her research interests involve education, culture, migration, internationalization, globalization, transition and youth educational mobility. Her Ph.D. dissertation focuses on the study of Tajikistani students’ mobility motivation and experiences within and beyond Tajikistan borders. She has presented her research and findings in several national and international conferences in Japan and beyond. Sodatsayrova has extensive experience in the field of education and received her first MA in Education (Muslim Societies and Civilizations) and MA in Teaching from Institute of Education, University of London. She also holds a Master degree in International Studies from University of Tsukuba, Japan. She has experience of conducting seminars and trainings in local and international programs, government and non-government organizations.

Visiting Fellows on “China’s OBOR project and its impact for Central Asia” (Fall 2017)

Dr. Kemel Toktomushev is a Research Fellow with the University of Central Asia’s Institute of Public Policy and Administration. Toktomushev has extensive experience in both Western and Central Asian environments, and his primary research interests focus on regime security, virtual politics, and the informal political economy of Central Asia. Toktomushev is the author of Kyrgyzstan – Regime Security and Foreign Policy published by Routledge, United Kingdom. Toktomushev holds a PhD in Politics from the University of Exeter and a Master of Science in International Relations from the London School of Economics. He is also a Harvard Kennedy School’s Executive Education alumnus.

Gaukhar Nursha is a non-profit expert and currently pursues her doctoral degree in International Relations at the Al-Farabi KazNU. Her thesis is titled «US and China in Kazakhstan: official agendas and public diplomacy». She analyzes two countries’ (US and China) approach in Kazakhstan, their repertoire of soft power tools and correlation with official foreign diplomacy. Another area, which she wants to emphasize, is peculiarities of soft power policies of authoritarian or illiberal states.

Gaukhar has a broad work experience in CSO sector of Kazakhstan. She worked at the Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia as a manager of projects sponsored by the United Nations Democracy Fund, the European Union and NCOC. Her project on Strengthening Kazakhstani CSOs downward accountability practies was the first to research and raise these issues among the public. Gaukhar is also a curator of Global Shapers Almaty Hub, a world wide youth organization initiated by the World Economic Forum. She focuses on providing equal opportunities for teenagers from low-income families and gender issues.

Azizbek Abdurakhimov Are the Countries of Central Asia in the Emigration Trap?

Gulnaz Atabaeva Remittances and Economic Growth: Empirical Evidence from Kyrgyzstan

Malika Bahovadinova and Isaac Scarborough Capitalism Fulfills the Final Five-Year Plan: How Soviet-Era Migration Institutions Came to Fruition in Post-Soviet Eurasia

Galib Bashirov Between Securitization and Accommodation: A Comparative Study of Russian and Turkish Approaches to Migration from Central Asia

Ajar Chekirova Citizens Undocumented: Challenges of Internal Migration in Kyrgyzstan

Farrukh Irnazarov The Impact of Russian Re-entry Bans on Central Asian Labor Migrants’ Coping Strategies

Jakhongir Kakhkharov Remittances as a Source of Finance for Entrepreneurship in Uzbekistan

Nodira Kholmatova Changing the Face of Labor Migration? The Feminization of Labor Migration from Tajikistan to Russia

Shoirakhon R. Nurdinova Analysis of Socio-Economic Factors Effecting of Uzbek Labor Migrants’ Decisions in Turkey

Nazira Sodatsayrova Domestic and International Mobility: Being Present and Living in the Present Moment through Educational Mobility

Bolat L. Tatibekov and Reuel R. Hanks Spatial Dynamics of External Labor Migration in Contemporary Kazakhstan

Rustam Urinboyev Migration, Transnationalism and Social Change in Central Asia: Everyday Transnational Lives of Uzbek Labor Migrants in Russia

 Zhengizkhan Zhanaltay Social Remittance Dynamics in Central Asia: Potential and Limitation