With the collapse of communism, post-communist societies scrambled to find meaning to their new independence. Central Asia was no exception. Events, relationships, gestures, spatial units and objects produced, conveyed and interpreted meaning. The new power container of the five independent states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan would significantly influence this process of signification. Post-Soviet Central Asia is an intriguing field to examine this transformation: a region which did not see an organised independence movement develop prior to Soviet implosion at the centre, it provokes questions about how symbolisation begins in the absence of a national will to do so.
The transformation overnight of Soviet republic into sovereign state provokes questions about how the process of communism-turned-nationalism could become symbolised, and what specific role symbols came to play in these early years of independence. Characterized by authoritarianism since 1991, the region’s ruling elites have enjoyed disproportionate access to knowledge and to deciding what, how and when that knowledge should be applied. The first of its kind on Central Asia, this book not only widens our understandings of developments in this geopolitically important region but also contributes to broader studies of representation, ritual, power and identity.
This book was published as a special issue of Europe-Asia Studies.
Table of Contents
1. Inscapes, Landscapes and Greyscapes: The Politics of Signification in Central Asia Sally N. Cummings 2. Legitimising Central Asian Authoritarianism: Political Manipulation and Symbolic Power Anna Matveeva 3. Nation Branding in Central Asia: A New Campaign to Present Ideas about the State and the Nation Erica Marat 4. Searching for Kamalot: Political Patronage and Youth Politics in Uzbekistan Eric M. McGlinchey 5. Michael Romm’s Ascent of Mount Stalin: A Soviet Landscape? Stuart Horsman 6. The Art of the Impossible: Political Symbolism, and the Creation of National Identity and Collective Memory in Post-Soviet Turkmenistan Michael Denison 7. Promising Futures? Education as a Symbolic Resource of Hope in Kyrgyzstan Sarah S. Amsler 8. Identity, Symbolism, and the Politics of Language in Central Asia William Fierman 9. The Invention of Legitimacy: Struggles in Kyrgyzstan to Craft an Effective Nation-State Ideology Asel Murzakulova and John Schoeberlein 10. Mass Spectacle and Styles of Governmentality in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan Laura L. Adams and Assel Rustemova 11. Materialising State Space: ‘Creeping Migration’ and Territorial Integrity in Southern Kyrgyzstan Madeleine Reeves 12. Tajikistan’s Virtual Politics of Peace John Heathershaw
Sally N. Cummings teaches at the University of St. Andrews. Her current research focuses on the politics of culture and political communication, primarily in Central Asia. Her publications include: Domestic and International Perspectives on Kyrgyzstan’s ‘Tulip Revolution’ (Routledge, 2009), Kazakhstan: Power and the Elite (IB Tauris 2005), Oil, Transition and Security in Central Asia (London and New York: Routledge, 2003) and Kazakhstan: Centre-Periphery Relations (London: Royal Institute of International Affairs and Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 2000).