Stable Outside, Fragile Inside?

Post-Soviet Statehood in Central Asia

Stable Outside, Fragile Inside? LOOK INSIDE
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  • Edited by Emilian Kavalski, Australian Catholic University (Sydney), Australia
  • Series: Post-Soviet Politics
  • In the wake of Soviet disintegration, Central Asia became an idiom for the ensuing confusion in the post-Cold War climate of international affairs, characterized by inter-state order and intra-state anarchy. Dynamic changes associated with the end of communism, the 'revival' of ethnic, religious and clan mobilization and the gradual involvement of various international actors, have inspired extensive scholarly and policy engagement with the region. Yet most analyses fail to bring Central Asia into the mainstream of systematic interrogation.

    This timely volume analyzes the quality of statehood in the region by assessing the complex dynamics of Central Asian state-making and focusing on the simultaneous patterns of socialization and internalization in the region. It straddles four different bodies of literature and addresses the systematic lacunae in all of them to investigate the localization effects of Russia, China, the EU and NATO on forms of post-Soviet statehood in Central Asia – placing Central Asia in the study and practice of world politics.
  • Contents: The international politics of fusion and fissure in the awkward states of post-Soviet Central Asia, Emilian Kavalski; Part 1 Analytical Perspectives on the Post-Soviet Statehood of Central Asia: Applying the democratization literature to post-Soviet Central Asian statehood, Paul Kubicek; The problems of the 'clan' politics model of Central Asian statehood: a call for alternative pathways for research, David Gullette; The international political economy of Central Asian statehood, Martin C. Spechler and Dina R. Spechler; Central Asian statehood in post-colonial perspective, John Heathershaw. Part 2 Insights from the Processes of Localization in the Dynamics of Central Asian State-Making: International democratic norms and domestic socialization in Kazakhstan: learning processes of the power elite, Kirill Nourzhanov; International agency in Kyrgyzstan: rhetoric, revolution and renegotiation, Claire Wilkinson; The limits of international agency: post-Soviet state building in Tajikstan, Lawrence P. Markowitz; Turkmenistan: flawed, fragile and isolated, Steven Sabol; Stalled at the doorstep of a modern state: neopatrimonial regime in Uzbekistan, Alisher Ilkhamov; Bibliography; Index.
  • About the Editor: Emilian Kavalski is Associate Professor of Global Studies at the Institute for Social Justice, Australian Catholic University (Sydney). He is currently working on (i) the encounter of International Relations with life in the Anthropocene, especially the conceptualization of and engagement with non-human actors; and (ii) the nascent Asian normative orders and the ways in which they confront, compliment, and transform established traditions, norms, and institutions. Emilian contends that in both these areas the application of Complexity Thinking has important implications for the way global life is approached, explained, and understood. At the same time, these research foci sketch a prolegomenon to the conceptual contexts of theory-building and policy-making intent on facilitating economic, social, and environmental interactions that promote the well-being of people in ways that are just, equitable, and sustainable.
  • Reviews: 'This book successfully demonstrates that the experience of state-building should not be conceived teleologically as a civilizing process. Contextualizing the evolutionary experience of state-formation in Central Asia, the authors of this volume highlight, persuasively and shrewdly, that this region is increasingly subject to a paradox involving external stability and domestic fragility.'
    Marlene Laurelle, Johns Hopkins University, USA

    'This collection of high-quality studies provides detailed overviews of relevant scholarship as well as a comprehensive introduction to selected empirical topics. It is thoroughly grounded in the theoretic academic literature that it impressively reviews, criticizes and extends on the basis of particular studies of the region on its own terms.'
    Robert M. Cutler, Carleton University, Canada

    'This is one of the first books to try and analyse the region as a political whole. Because of the hopeless visa regimes which persist in Central Asia, it is almost impossible for one person to get to know all five countries intimately… This is therefore a very useful comparative analysis of five similar, but also very different, countries in what we think is a homogenous region…'
    Asian Affairs

    'This volume is […] welcome; the conversation it crystallizes is long overdue. Emilian Kavalski has assembled a group of top-notch Central Asia specialists, who contribute both empirical detail and theoretical value… each chapter is entirely worth reading on its own… Readers who know what questions to ask will benefit tremendously from reading this book. Others will read this volume differently, sticking to individual chapters and limiting their learning to what each independently provides. Either way, the book provides a tremendous service in generating a long-overdue conversation about weak statehood in the region - a topic that will remain relevant for the foreseeable future.'
    Acta Politica

    '… one will find insights in this work, especially with respect to better understanding how to analyze Central Asian politics. Most edited volumes on the region are either comparative in nature, with an emphasis on domestic politics alone, or tomes that dwell on the “great game” framework of geopolitics. Kavalski suggests that one can do better than that. The Central Asian case studies enhance our understanding of different theories, approaches, and methodologies. To this end, the authors do provide a full bibliography and challenge these respective theories, especially on economic development (Martin C. Spechler and Dina R. Spechler), clan politics (David Gullette), and democratization (Paul Kubicek)… a positive addition to a growing list of studies that place Central Asia among the case studies in international relations and political science theories.'
    Slavic Review

    'The authors successfully attempt to transform the obsolete descriptive nature of existing debates in the Central Asian studies field into a more critical and vibrant discussion. More importantly, they make Central Asian states the centre of analysis through interpreting existing analytical approaches to explain local political cultures, instead of tailoring (i.e. distorting or ignoring certain aspects of) empirical evidence from the region to fit into conventional analytical frameworks.'
    Political Studies Review