Political Science Democracy and Dictatorship in Central Asia
by
Mariya Y. Omelicheva
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 September 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 May 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0060

Introduction

The fall of communism in Europe and the demise of the Soviet Union were met with jubilation and confidence amid the rapid democratization of the former communist states. A decade later, however, the democratization euphoria was replaced with the growing concerns over the retreat of democracy as several democratizing societies evinced the resurgence of authoritarianism. Central Asia, which encompasses the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, has become a part of this trend. Despite the pledges of their governments to support democratization, these states embraced nondemocratic rule, variously labeled as “personal dictatorships,” “authoritarian presidentialisms,” and “neopatrimonial” and “sultanistic” regimes. The study of democracy and dictatorship in Central Asia falls within the broader scholarship in comparative politics, international relations, and area studies about changes in regime types. Initially, the study of regimes in Central Asia was approached from the standpoint of transitology, portraying democratization as a linear process furthered by civil society actors and political elites. The Central Asian leaders, who perceive democracy as the gravest threat to their personal political survival, have been held responsible for the democratic stalemate in their countries. It has also been argued that these countries’ political cultures and historical legacies, compounded by acute socioeconomic conditions, have served as roadblocks to full democratization. Early-21st-century scholarship has seen a shift away from characterizing these states through the lens of democratization theory, with an emergence of perspectives portraying them as qualitatively new “hybrid” regimes with their own internal logics. These new perspectives aim at explaining the puzzling diversity of authoritarian patterns within the region, despite the broadly similar experiences and structures of Central Asian states, and identifying the sources of authoritarian persistence. In addition, an international dimension has been introduced to the study of regimes in Central Asia, centered on the idea that various international actors—the United States, the European Union, and others—play an active and, at times, decisive role in the success of democratic reforms. A new debate emerged around the methods and approaches to international democratization, particularly whether coercive and incentives-based strategies or methods based on complex learning and persuasion are more effective in promoting democracy abroad. The study of the processes of “autocratization,” which refers to active and passive promotion of nondemocratic governance and resistance to democratization by the powerful players in the region, especially Russia and China, is a recent addition to the literature on Central Asia.

General Overviews

The volume of literature addressing the nature of regimes in Central Asia and prospects for their democratic transformation has grown considerably since the second half of the 1990s. Cummings 2002 and Olcott 2005 stand out for their comprehensive overview of the region’s Soviet past and the post-independence trajectories of individual Central Asian countries. Each provides an accessible and detailed account of the Central Asian politics and experiences with transition. Cummings 2002 contains a thorough analysis of the ways in which political leaders from Central Asian republics were able to rise to power and maintain it. Olcott 2005 also addresses the disappointing outcomes of democratization during the first decade following these states’ independence, but a great part of the book is about these republics’ post-9/11 experiences. Martha Olcott lays blame for the failure of resolving the region’s problems both on the Central Asian leadership and the foreign policies of the United States. Rather than addressing the problem of regimes in general, Burghart and Sabonis-Helf 2005 brings together a collection of essays covering a broad range of problems facing the region, many of which intersect the topic of democracy and dictatorship in Central Asia. Essays on the Soviet legacies, political and economic reform strategies, Islam, and human rights are particularly noteworthy in this regard. Luong 2002, on the other hand, provides country-by-country comparisons along several dimensions of democratization and puts forth a remarkable comparative account of the electoral systems in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, grounded in a theoretical approach that creatively combines structural-historical and agency-related strategic contexts for explaining institutional designs in these states. Freedman and Shafer 2011 focuses on a crucial subset of regimes’ transition; namely, media and the press in Central Asian states. The knowledge of the region, its rich history, and the related issues of nation- and state-building is a prerequisite for grasping the analyses of regimes in Central Asia. Golden 2011 offers an engaging historical and cultural account of the region from prehistory to the present, and it is accessible to novices to the study of Central Asia. Roy 2000 is a more advanced read on the evolution of Central Asian nation-states, which lacked traditional nationalist heritage or history of independent government and had to rely on the Soviet-era practices, identities, and institutions in building their nation-states. Omelicheva 2014 reexamines and debates what individual Central Asian states and nations represent and how nationalism and identity construction in these republics are used for the purpose of legitimization of the ruling administrations’ power politics.

  • Burghart, Dan, and Theresa Sabonis-Helf, eds. In the Tracks of Tamerlane: Central Asia’s Path to the 21st Century. Honolulu, HI: University Press of the Pacific, 2005.

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    A collection of essays that jointly provide the most comprehensive, albeit outdated, survey of a broad range of problems facing Central Asia, many of which relate to political regimes. Chapters are organized around specific topics, rather than countries, which makes for an excellent textbook on Central Asia.

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    • Cummings, Sally N., ed. Power and Change in Central Asia. Abingdon, UK, and New York: Routledge, 2002.

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      Although some information presented in the book is dated, its thematic focus on the emergence and consolidation of strong authoritarian presidential regimes is invaluable. Emphasizes the role of process and agency during transition and highlights similarities and differences among the leadership styles of five Central Asian regimes.

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      • Freedman, Eric, and Richard Shafer, eds. After the Czars and Commissars: Journalism in Authoritarian Post-Soviet Central Asia. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2011.

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        Combines theoretical insights on the study of the press in Central Asia with an account of the development of a free press in these states. Contains empirical chapters on various aspects of mass media and journalism in the region.

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        • Golden, Peter B. Central Asia in World History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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          Offers a comprehensive and impartial overview of Central Asian history from early human settlement to the present. Contains a geopolitical narrative of the region and a survey of the complex mosaic of its cultures.

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          • Luong, Pauline Jones. Institutional Change and Political Continuity in Post-Soviet Central Asia: Power, Perceptions, and Pacts. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511510199Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

            Provides a detailed and theory-grounded account of the electoral systems in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. Embedded in the scholarship on sources and effects of institutions, the book is a must-read for students of comparative politics.

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            • Olcott, Martha Brill. Central Asia’s Second Chance. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005.

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              Looks at Central Asia through the prism of US foreign policy. Draws a bleak but accurate picture of the glum prospects of Central Asian states to resolve their multifaceted problems. Stresses the shortcomings of US activities in the region. Appendixes contain a wealth of comparative data on Central Asian states.

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              • Omelicheva, Mariya Y., ed. Nationalism and Identity Construction in Central Asia: Dimensions, Dynamics, and Directions. London and Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014.

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                Represents Central Asian nations as “constructed,” “imagined,” strategic, and tactical formations. What Central Asian nations are is the subject of change and contestation by a variety of internal and external actors.

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                • Roy, Olivier. The New Central Asia: The Creation of Nations. London: I. B. Tauris, 2000.

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                  Well-researched and insightful, the book may be difficult to peruse for undergraduate students and those unfamiliar with the region because of its writing style (complex sentences are retained in the translation from the French) and the lack of maps or other guides to the region.

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                  Comparative Authoritarianisms

                  The general dissatisfaction with democratization theories gave rise to provocative and insightful works examining the nature of various types of authoritarian and “hybrid” regimes. Short of a theory of authoritarian politics or the processes of “autocratization,” this body of literature has accumulated strong descriptive accounts of authoritarian institutions and processes in Central Asia, and it has suggested novel conceptualizations of authoritarian regimes (see also Promoting Autocracy in Central Asia). One of the most comprehensive accounts of various types of nondemocratic regimes can be found in Brooker 2009. Although not directed at the analysis and explanation of the emergence of nondemocratic regimes in Central Asia, Brooker 2009 mentions Central Asian states in its classificatory scheme and chapters on dictatorships and hybrid regimes. Levitsky and Way 2002 focuses on competitive authoritarianisms and discusses how this type of regime is different from other types of “hybrid” regimes. Drawing on examples from Central Asia and other states, Steven Levitsky and Lucan Way suggest several arenas through which opposition forces can challenge, weaken, and even defeat autocratic incumbents. Robertson 2010 zeros in on the role of protests in bringing about political change in hybrid regimes. Melvin 2004 offers a comparison of authoritarian politics in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan along three dimensions—relations between central governments and local authorities, the degree of economic liberalization, and ethno-political cleavages—and attempts to explain the diversity of authoritarian forms in the region. McGlinchey 2011, which is also cited under the Role of Informal Institutions, offers a fresh way of thinking about the role of the Soviet legacy in furthering authoritarian politics in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. The argument is that Soviet patronage politics strengthened the neopatrimonial structures in Central Asia. Tolipov 2007 offers a local perspective on regimes in Central Asia. Written by a scholar from Tashkent, Tolipov 2007 demonstrates how all Central Asian regimes have been engaged in the construction and dissemination of myths about “enlightened authoritarianism” as the most appropriate political model for Central Asian republics. Kubicek 1998 is a provocative piece arguing that nondemocratic regimes in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, on balance, served a positive purpose of preserving order and discouraging radical nationalism. This radical assertion foreshadowed some of the current perspectives on the nature and ways of looking at the “hybrid” regimes.

                  • Brooker, Paul. Non-democratic Regimes. 2d ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

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                    While it is not geared specifically to the analysis of Central Asian regimes, the book provides an excellent typology of nondemocratic regimes. Chapters examining the emergence and consolidation of new dictatorships and ways in which they implement policies are particularly useful for the study of regimes in Central Asia.

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                    • Kubicek, Paul. “Authoritarianism in Central Asia: Curse or Cure?” Third World Quarterly 19.1 (1998): 29–43.

                      DOI: 10.1080/01436599814514Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                      Raises a question about the effects of authoritarianism on Central Asian states. Argues that authoritarianism is not tantamount to “backwardness.” Asserts that Central Asian authoritarianisms can preserve order and discourage virulent nationalism. Can be used as a moot question for discussion or further analysis.

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                      • Levitsky, Steven, and Lucan A. Way. “The Rise of Competitive Authoritarianisms.” Journal of Democracy 13.2 (2002): 51–65.

                        DOI: 10.1353/jod.2002.0026Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        Contains an excellent introduction to different types of “hybrid” regimes by way of comparing and contrasting competitive authoritarianisms with political types lacking all necessary attributes of liberal democracy. Discusses elections, legislatures, judiciaries, and media as the possible arenas of contestation of authoritarian leaders by opposition forces.

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                        • McGlinchey, Eric. Chaos, Violence, Dynasty: Politics and Islam in Central Asia. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011.

                          DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5vkhbqSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                          A comparative study of authoritarianisms in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, emphasizing the role of informal institutions and Islam, among other factors, in these countries’ politics. Offers a compelling overview of the Soviet period in these countries’ past and how the Soviet government’s policies contributed to the rise of current neopatrimonial regimes in Central Asia.

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                          • Melvin, Neil J. “Authoritarian Pathways in Central Asia: A Comparison of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Uzbekistan.” In Democracy and Pluralism in Muslim Eurasia. Edited by Yaacov Ro’i, 119–142. London and New York: Frank Cass, 2004.

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                            Links the analysis of regimes in Central Asia to broader literatures on democratization and authoritarianism, and debates the impact of culture, tradition, and socioeconomic factors. Argues for the transformative character of “new authoritarianisms” in Central Asia.

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                            • Robertson, Graeme B. The Politics of Protest in Hybrid Regimes: Managing Dissent in Post-communist Russia. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

                              DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511921209Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                              While the book’s focus is on the hybrid regime in Russia, its theoretical insights about the ways hybrid regimes manage political competition in the streets can hold across hybrid regimes in Central Asia, especially Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

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                              • Tolipov, Farkhad. “Central Asia: Universal Democracy, National Democracy, or Enlightened Authoritarianism?” Central Asia and the Caucasus 2.44 (2007): 7–17.

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                                Offers an insider’s view and a unique perspective on the nature of regimes within the region. Although it does not articulate a theoretical framework, it is compatible with critical and constructivist perspectives pointing to discursive construction of “enlightened authoritarianisms” as an appropriate model of governance for Central Asia.

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                                Authoritarian Persistence

                                Central Asian regimes are deliberately organized and durable authoritarian regimes that have adopted the formal trappings of democracy. The leadership of these states has been determined to hold on to their power under the guise of democracy without exposing themselves to the political risks of competition for power. The fact that these regimes enjoy a degree of popular support suggests that their governments do not stay in power exclusively through repression, but enjoy a degree of legitimacy in the societies they rule. Dictatorship and autocracy seem likely to persist in Central Asia, but the sources of authoritarian regimes’ persistence have only recently begun to be explored. Focusing on Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, Omelicheva 2016 contends that authoritarian regimes persist through effective legitimation discourses carefully employed by governments characterized by democratic deficit. March 2003 and Hanks 2016 analyze rhetorical legitimation strategies of post-Soviet Uzbekistan. March 2003 proposes a novel conception of “ideology” as the comprehensive pre-political consensus of the community in Uzbekistan. Hanks 2016 explores the dual myths of Islam created by the leadership of Uzbekistan, which simultaneously portrays Islam as an indelible feature of the Uzbek nation and as an existential threat to state security. These narratives afford extraordinary powers to security forces in Uzbekistan and limit civil and political freedoms. Lewis 2016 illuminates the emergence of a hegemonic discourse in Kazakhstan that limits opportunities for political opponents to promote alternative political agendas and mobilize popular support. Zeigler 2016 and Vanderhill and Aleprete 2013 shift focus on the interplay of domestic and international forces in an effort to account for the authoritarian persistence of Central Asian regimes. For Zeigler 2016, it is illiberal ideas, norms, and institutions together with Western democracy promotion fatigue that undermine the development of civil society and make authoritarian persistence in Central Asia more likely. Vanderhill and Aleprete 2013 explores how international factors interact with domestic conditions to explain the persistence of authoritarianism in Central Asia and beyond.

                                • Hanks, Reuel R. “Narratives of Islam in Uzbekistan: Authoritarian Myths and the Janus-State Syndrome.” Central Asian Survey 35.4 (2016): 501–513.

                                  DOI: 10.1080/02634937.2016.1255181Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                  Demonstrates how discursive constructions of political Islam in Uzbekistan shape its authoritarian policies and set limits on the opportunities for moderate Islamic groups to emerge. Argues that civil society cannot thrive in Central Asia without the moderate Islamic forces necessary for promoting the foundations for peaceful coexistence, toleration, and pluralism.

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                                  • Lewis, David. “Blogging Zhanaozen: Hegemonic Discourse and Authoritarian Resilience in Kazakhstan.” Central Asian Survey 35.3 (2016): 421–438.

                                    DOI: 10.1080/02634937.2016.1161902Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                    Makes a strong case for the importance of discursive sources of authoritarian legitimacy. Deploys a discourse analysis of posts by independent bloggers in the aftermath of violence in Zhanaozen in Kazakhstan in 2011 to show how official narratives are reproduced online.

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                                    • March, Andrew F. “State Ideology and the Legitimation of Authoritarianism: The Case of Post-Soviet Uzbekistan.” Journal of Political Ideologies 8.2 (2003): 209–232.

                                      DOI: 10.1080/13569310306088Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                      Examines the discourse of authoritarian legitimation in post-Soviet Uzbekistan. Criticizes “consequentialist” and “principled” arguments advanced to explain authoritarian legitimation. Focuses on “ideology” that advances the teleological conception of politics as a superior approach to understanding how authoritarian governments legitimize themselves rhetorically.

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                                      • Omelicheva, Mariya Y. “Authoritarian Legitimation: Assessing Discourses of Legitimacy in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.” Central Asian Survey 35.4 (2016): 481–500.

                                        DOI: 10.1080/02634937.2016.1245181Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                        Develops a theoretical framework for exploring and assessing discursive appeals to legitimacy by authoritarian regimes. Assesses the effectiveness of authoritarian legitimation strategies in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

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                                        • Vanderhill, Rachel, and Michael E. Aleprete Jr., eds. International Dimensions of Authoritarian Persistence: Lessons from Post-Soviet States. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2013.

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                                          Focuses on former Soviet states, including Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, to assess the role of international factors in explaining authoritarian persistence. Offers a historical and comparative analysis the Western political and economic influence and counter-influence by Russia and China, and how international forces interact with features of regimes and societies in the post-Soviet states.

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                                          • Zeigler, Charles E. “Great Powers, Civil Society and Authoritarian Diffusion in Central Asia.” Central Asian Survey 35.4 (2016): 549–569.

                                            DOI: 10.1080/02634937.2016.1228608Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                            Reviews authoritarian promotion literature. Juxtaposes external pressures for democratization or authoritarian persistence with the low receptivity of Central Asian states and societies to democracy promotion, with special attention to civil societies in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

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                                            Journals

                                            As the study of democracy and dictatorship in Central Asia falls within broader areas of scholarship, including comparative politics, international relations, and area studies about changes in regime types, it is important to look at academic journals that focus on Democracy and Democratization, as well as those that specifically focus on Central Asia.

                                            Central Asia

                                            There are several academic journals focusing on Central Asia. A definite leader in this field is Central Asian Survey, which is also the oldest peer-reviewed journal listed here, with more than thirty years of experience in publishing multidisciplinary research on the history, politics, cultures, religions, and economies of the Central Asian and Caucasian regions. With a somewhat broader geographical scope, the Journal of Central Asian and Caucasian Studies (JCACS) publishes peer-reviewed articles on Central Asia and the Caucasus, in addition to neighboring states (Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, China, Mongolia, and Russia) and regions (Black Sea, South Asia, Middle East, and Far East). Although the editorial board of the Journal of Central Asian and Caucasian Studies comes from the International Strategic Research Organization, located in Ankara, Turkey, the journal is an independent, refereed publication. Those interested in up-to-date and reliable information and analyses of the current issues, events, and trends in Central Asia will find attractive articles and fields reports published online by the Central Asia–Caucasus Analyst, the biweekly journal of the Central Asia–Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a joint research and policy center affiliated with the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and the Institute for Security and Development Policy. Central Asia and the Caucasus—Journal of Social and Political Studies, produced by the Institute for Central Asian and Caucasian Studies in Sweden and the Institute of Strategic Studies in the Caucasus in Azerbaijan, pursues similar goals. It provides timely analyses of the most-urgent aspects of the social, political, religious, and economic situation in Central Asia and the Caucasus, often prepared by scholars and analysts from these two regions. East European Politics (until 2012 known as the Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics), Post-Soviet Affairs, Problems of Post-Communism (these three journals are also cited under Democracy and Democratization), and Europe-Asia Studies, while they have a wider geographical scope, feature frequent articles on Central Asia.

                                            Democracy and Democratization

                                            The Journal of Democracy, Democratization, and Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization are the three publications specializing in the theory and practice of democracy. An often-cited publication, the Journal of Democracy is considered one of the most authoritative voices in the field of democracy studies. It offers several types of publications on every aspect of the establishment, consolidation, and maintenance of democracy. It is also part of the International Forum for Democratic Studies, housed within the National Endowment for Democracy, a US nonprofit organization funded through annual allocations from the US Congress and tasked with democracy promotion abroad. Democratization is a premier academic journal, whose goal is to promote a better understanding both of democracy and democratization worldwide. Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization publishes works on politics, economics, social and legal issues, nationalities, international relations, human rights, crime, and corruption in the post-Soviet space. East European Politics, Post-Soviet Affairs, and Problems of Post-Communism (also cited under Journals: Central Asia) are among other academic outlets publishing featured works on various aspects of democracy and democratization in the post-Soviet territory, including Central Asia.

                                            Kazakhstan

                                            A great deal of work has been done on the early and modern history of the Kazakh people. Written by an indisputable expert in this field, Olcott 1995 offers a detailed academic guide to the history of the Kazakh nation from the mid-15th century to the “unexpected independence” in 1991 and beyond. If Olcott 1995 interweaves Islam with the developments in traditional nomadic institutions and culture, Dzhunusova 2004 emphasizes elements of democratic tradition in the historical nomadic civilization of the Kazakh steppe and argues, contrary to many skeptics of the democratic experiences of Central Asian states, that Kazakhstan’s nomadic heritage features elements of democratic rule. Dave 2007 discusses economic accomplishments of the Nazarbaev government as well as its records of accord and stability in an ethnically diverse and poly-confessional state. Dave 2007 argues that the Nazarbaev regime has relied on the neopatrimonial practices established during the Soviet time to bolster its rule, and that its vision of the nation has been modeled on Soviet experiences. Schatz 2004 (also cited under the Role of Informal Institutions) grapples with one of the frequently mentioned but little-understood realities of Kazakhstan—namely, its clan- and kin-based networks—which have affected political and economic transitions in this state. The concept of neopatrimonialism is also central to Isaacs 2011 (also cited under the Role of Informal Institutions), examining the nexus of formal and informal politics in party-system formation in Kazakhstan. Kalyuzhnova 2006 (also cited under the “Resource Curse” and Democracy) examines the impact of mineral resources on various political and economic outcomes in Kazakhstan. Perlman and Gleason 2007 (also discussed under Institutional Explanations) takes the “cultural determinism” argument to task and argues that, although cultural values continue to affect policymaking in Kazakhstan, they do not play a determining role in the country’s administrative changes. It was expected that Kazakhstan would strengthen its democratic credentials in advance and during its chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 2010. Van Lohuizen 2010 discusses a contentious decision to grant Kazakhstan the chairmanship of the OSCE and provides a preliminary assessment of Kazakhstan’s pledges to live up to the OSCE standards in the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Laruelle 2016 offers new multidisciplinary insights into Kazakhstan’s economic success, international accomplishments, and political trajectory, and highlights the role of Kazakh society in the country’s transformation.

                                            • Dave, Bhavna. Kazakhstan: Ethnicity, Language and Power. Abingdon, UK, and New York: Routledge, 2007.

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                                              Explores the questions of nation building and nationhood in post-independence Kazakhstan, linking them to the Soviet ideas of the nation, citizen, and national culture. Offers rich ethnographic and interview-based evidence.

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                                              • Dzhunusova, Zhanylzhan. “The Democratic Tradition of Kazakhstan in Historical Context.” In Democracy and Pluralism in Muslim Eurasia. Edited by Yaacov Ro’i, 13–30. London and New York: Frank Cass, 2004.

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                                                Discusses the features of “steppe democracy,” such as elections of khans and courts of biys (biys were elected judges and administrators in the nomadic tribes). Points to some protodemocratic features of the social and political structure of the precolonization Kazakh society embracing elements of representation, decentralized power, and the rule of common law.

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                                                • Isaacs, Rico. Party System Formation in Kazakhstan: Between Formal and Informal Politics. Central Asian Studies 26. New York: Routledge, 2011.

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                                                  One of the most innovative works on party politics in Central Asia, integrating literature on Central Asian politics and neopatrimonial institutions, on the one hand, with scholarship on political institutions and political party formation, on the other. Uses the analytical framework combining formal and informal politics for studying post-Soviet authoritarian consolidation and failed democratization.

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                                                  • Kalyuzhnova, Yelena. “Overcoming the Curse of Hydrocarbon: Goals and Governance in the Oil Funds of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.” Comparative Economic Studies 48.4 (2006): 583–613.

                                                    DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.ces.8100160Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                    Examines the impact of oil funds created in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan on microeconomic and energy policies in these energy-rich countries.

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                                                    • Laruelle, Marlene, ed. Kazakhstan in the Making: Legitimacy, Symbols, and Social Changes. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016.

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                                                      Drawing on political science, anthropology, and sociology, offers a novel and multifaceted analysis of Kazakhstan’s post-Soviet evolution. Includes discussion of legitimation strategies, changing national identity discourses, interethnic relations, and the role of Kazakh society in social and political transformations.

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                                                      • Olcott, Martha Brill. The Kazakhs. 2d ed. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1995.

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                                                        The second edition of the book details the events surrounding Kazakhstan’s independence and retains original chapters surveying the major events in the history of Kazakhs. Points to challenges in the Kazakh historiography since the fall of the USSR and Kazakhstan’s relations with Russia.

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                                                        • Perlman, Bruce J., and Gregory Gleason. “Cultural Determinism versus Administrative Logic: Asian Values and Administrative Reform in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.” International Journal of Public Administration 30.12–14 (2007): 1327–1342.

                                                          DOI: 10.1080/01900690701229475Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          Challenges the argument of “cultural determinism” by showing how Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, states with similar cultures and administrative legacy, followed different paths in their administrative reforms. Provides a more nuanced interpretation of cultural influences.

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                                                          • Schatz, Edward. Modern Clan Politics: The Power of “Blood” in Kazakhstan and Beyond. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2004.

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                                                            Demonstrates and explains the phenomenon of kin-based clan politics in Kazakhstan and other states of the world. Underscores the impact of clans on the modern political and economic developments in the country. A must-read that challenges conventional ways of thinking about modern politics, states, and Central Asia.

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                                                            • van Lohuizen, Matthias. “Kazakhstan as the OSCE Chairman-in-Office 2010: Success or Failure for the Organization.” Security and Human Rights 21.4 (2010): 269–278.

                                                              DOI: 10.1163/187502310794895416Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                              Revisits a highly disputed decision to grant Kazakhstan the chairmanship of the OSCE during 2010. An introductory reading into the topic, assessing the impact of Kazakhstan’s OSCE chairmanship on the organization itself, and on Kazakhstan’s human rights practices and political freedoms.

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                                                              Kyrgyzstan

                                                              Since its independence, Kyrgyzstan has attracted considerable attention from scholars and politicians. Dubbed as the “oasis of democracy” and “Switzerland of Central Asia” in the early 1990s, it became an “island of instability” in the early 21st century after the toppling of President Akaev in 2005, the violent overthrow of President Bakiev in 2010, and subsequent interethnic violence in the south of the country. Anderson 1999 is representative of the early scholarly optimism regarding Kyrgyzstan’s prospects for political and economic liberalization, as well as the befuddlement about the sources of stagnation of the democratic reforms. Both Levitin 2004 and McGlinchey 2011 are highly critical of the presumed democratization in the country, and both attempt to understand what derailed political reforms in Kyrgyzstan. Levitin 2004 argues that the creation of Kyrgyzstan’s democratic image was loosely linked to the personality of President Akaev, who exhibited many liberalizing tendencies. Kyrgyzstan experienced only limited liberalization, however, which was mistakenly taken for democratization. McGlinchey 2011 explores deep-seated structural challenges to political stability in Kyrgyzstan, which have been responsible both for enduring political turmoil and periodic ethnic violence in the country. Both Juraev 2008 and Tudoroiu 2007 find flaws with the placement of Kyrgyzstan within the democratization discourse that characterizes the events of March 2005 as a democratic revolution in the general context of Kyrgyzstan’s democratization. Juraev 2008 critically assesses the nature of political competition in Kyrgyzstan preceding and following the toppling of the regime of President Akaev. Tudoroiu 2007 places Kyrgyzstan’s “revolution” in comparative perspective and demonstrates how the event entailed merely a rotation of ruling elites within an undemocratic political system. McMann 2006 turns from structural variables to individual-level calculations and explains the manifestations of “hybrid regimes” such as Kyrgyzstan through differences in the levels of economic autonomy, which links capitalism and democracy through individuals’ calculations about political activism. Schatz 2009 explores the question of survivability of a “soft authoritarian” system and shows the importance of political framing and persuasion in the ruling elite’s arsenal of methods for governance. Commercio 2010 examines the relationship between Russian minorities and regimes in Kyrgyzstan and Latvia, detailing how states’ policies, including informal politics, affect the behavioral choices and preferences of Russians, and how the strength of their interpersonal networks affects the Russians’ propensity to mobilize and seek redress, which in turn affects the regimes’ stability. Laruelle and Engvall 2015 seeks to dispense with the simplistic representations of Kyrgyzstan as an “island of democracy” or the prototype of a “failing state” and provides new insights on the contemporary politics of Kyrgyzstan, some of the overlooked aspects of its socioeconomic development, and identity formation.

                                                              • Anderson, John. Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia’s Island of Democracy? Amsterdam: Harwood Academic, 1999.

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                                                                A concise and easy-to-read introduction to Kyrgyzstan, including its pre-Soviet and Soviet history and early political and economic developments after independence.

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                                                                • Commercio, Michele E. Russian Minority Politics in Post-Soviet Latvia and Kyrgyzstan: The Transformative Power of Informal Networks. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010.

                                                                  DOI: 10.9783/9780812204704Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  Compares Russian minorities’ choices with regard to out-migration and political mobilization in Kyrgyzstan and Latvia, by looking at certain characteristics of regimes (including informal politics and networks). Offers a wealth of data from field research and personal interviews.

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                                                                  • Juraev, Shairbek. “Kyrgyz Democracy? The Tulip Revolution and Beyond.” Central Asian Survey 27.3–4 (2008): 253–264.

                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/02634930802536464Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                    An informed critique both of the democratization paradigm and democratic meaning behind Kyrgyzstan’s political developments that culminated in the “Tulip Revolution” of 2005. Analyzes the traditional elements of modern political contestation in the republic.

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                                                                    • Laruelle, Marlene, and Johan Engvall, eds. Kyrgyzstan beyond “Democracy Island” and “Failing State”: Social and Political Changes in a Post-Soviet Society. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2015.

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                                                                      Includes contributions from young and veteran scholars of Central Asian politics from Central Asia, Europe, and the United States. Dispels the dominant presumptions of Kyrgyzstan as economically and politically weak, unstable, and lacking any real resources of value.

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                                                                      • Levitin, Leonid. “Liberalization in Kyrgyzstan: ‘An Island of Democracy.’” In Democracy and Pluralism in Muslim Eurasia. Edited by Yaacov Ro’i, 187–214. London and New York: Frank Cass, 2004.

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                                                                        Highlights several factors (Islam, Kyrgyz traditions of blood relationships, multiethnic structure of the state, and the nature of opposition) that can provide a basis for discussion and analysis of Kyrgyzstan’s politics of transition, but does not contain a theoretical argument or conceptual framework for understanding the failure of democratization in Kyrgyzstan.

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                                                                        • McGlinchey, Eric. “Exploring Regime Instability and Ethnic Violence in Kyrgyzstan.” Asia Policy 12 (2011): 79–98.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1353/asp.2011.0030Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          The title is representative of the article’s content. It examines the immediate causes and structural conditions for Kyrgyzstan’s enduring political instability and outbursts of ethnic violence.

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                                                                          • McMann, Kelly M. Economic Autonomy and Democracy: Hybrid Regimes in Russia and Kyrgyzstan. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511510281Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                            How do individuals decide to exercise their democratic rights? Argues that individuals begin with assessing their ability to make a living independent of government authorities and calculate the risk of political activism to their livelihood. Offers a wealth of data from Russia and Kyrgyzstan on activists’ decisions to establish independent media, to lead a political organization, or to run for office.

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                                                                            • Schatz, Edward. “The Soft Authoritarian Tool Kit: Agenda-Setting Power in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.” Comparative Politics 41.2 (2009): 203–222.

                                                                              DOI: 10.5129/001041509X12911362972034Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                              Offers novel theoretical and conceptual ways of thinking about politics in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, by shifting its focus onto the tools of “soft authoritarian” influence and methods of framing and persuasion. Argues that authoritarian leaders survive when they are able to frame political debate to their benefit.

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                                                                              • Tudoroiu, Theodor. “Rose, Orange, and Tulip: The Failed Post-Soviet Revolutions.” Communist and Post-Communist Studies 40.3 (2007): 315–342.

                                                                                DOI: 10.1016/j.postcomstud.2007.06.005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                Enhances our understanding of the “Tulip Revolution” in Kyrgyzstan and its inherently undemocratic character, by comparing it with “Rose” and “Orange” revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine. Points to the limited role of civil society in “revolutions” and the control of transformations by political elites.

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                                                                                Tajikistan

                                                                                There are considerably fewer studies on the nature of the regime and the prospects for democratization in Tajikistan, largely because these prospects are presumed to be bleak in this poverty- and conflict-ridden country. The early literature on the politics of Tajikistan examined the complex causes and consequence of the Tajik civil war and approaches to post-conflict political reconciliation. Akiner 2001 contains an overview of the Tajik conflict and its political, ideological, regional, and ethnic precursors. Olimova 2004 looks at one aspect of the post-conflict political order; namely, the nature, sources, and activities of Tajik opposition. Heathershaw 2009 superimposes the questions of democracy/authoritarianism in Tajikistan with peace-building efforts in this country and demonstrates how international intervention inadvertently facilitated authoritarianism in Tajikistan. Jonson 2009 places Tajikistan’s political developments in historical and modern geopolitical contexts and discusses the domestic challenges of radical Islam, identity politics, drug trafficking, and poor economic performance. Bergne 2007 offers a vivid historical account of Tajikistan, focusing on the formation of the Tajik national identity among the disparate Persian-speaking peoples.

                                                                                • Akiner, Shirin. Tajikistan: Disintegration or Reconciliation? Central Asian and Caucasian Prospects. London: Royal Institute of International Affairs, 2001.

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                                                                                  Offers a concise overview of the internal and external dynamics of the Tajik conflict. One of the early attempts at assessing the relative importance of diverse factors leading to war, and the conflict’s implications for Tajikistan and the broader Central Asian region.

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                                                                                  • Bergne, Paul. The Birth of Tajikistan: National Identity and the Origins of the Republic. London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 2007.

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                                                                                    A valuable read for those interested in the history of Persian-speaking peoples and those who want to learn about the formation of national identities despite the adversities and inhospitable geopolitical environment. Contains old maps of Central Asia and a wealth of data on institutions and political figures.

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                                                                                    • Heathershaw, John. Post-conflict Tajikistan: The Politics of Peacebuilding and the Emergence of Legitimate Order. Abingdon, UK, and New York: Routledge, 2009.

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                                                                                      Engages with the questions of politics in post-conflict Tajikistan and the theory and practice of peace building. A valuable read for conflict and peace and area studies. Contains a glossary of terms and appendix with open-source information on Tajikistan and Central Asia. Offers an excellent example of fieldwork.

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                                                                                      • Jonson, Lena. Tajikistan in the New Central Asia: Geopolitics, Great Power Rivalry, and Radical Islam. London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 2009.

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                                                                                        Focuses on Tajik foreign policy but offers a concise overview of Tajikistan’s pre-Soviet, Soviet, and post-independence history, as well as the recent geopolitical, security-related, and economic developments inside and outside the state. Accompanied by tables, maps, and suggestions for further readings. First published in 2006.

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                                                                                        • Olimova, Saodat. “Opposition in Tajikistan: Pro et Contra.” In Democracy and Pluralism in Muslim Eurasia. Edited by Yaacov Ro’i, 245–264. London and New York: Frank Cass, 2004.

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                                                                                          Argues for a broader understanding of opposition in the Central Asian context due to the peculiar nature of political processes in these states. Offers largely descriptive analysis of the nature and sources of opposition in Tajikistan.

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                                                                                          Turkmenistan

                                                                                          Two decades after its independence, Turkmenistan still remains terra incognita to the outside world. With the exception of its role as an important energy producer, little information about its politics, security, and economy has been released from this closed state. As a result, considerably fewer works have been dedicated to Turkmenistan or its political reform. Abazov 2005 offers a concise overview of Turkmenistan’s history from the earliest times to the early 21st century, as well as the country’s modern political, social, and economic situation. Peyrouse 2011 is the most recent academic publication, examining political, social, economic, and geopolitical aspects of post-independence Turkmenistan and emphasizing continuity between the rule of President Niyazov and his successor, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov. Anceschi 2008 examines the process of consolidation of power in Turkmenistan in the hands of President Niyazov (also known as Turkmenbashi) and the transfer of power after his sudden demise. Blank 2007 also focuses on the issue of succession, especially the role of great powers vying for influence in post-Niyazov Turkmenistan. Anceschi 2010 contains a more concise and comparative overview of the dynamics through which the Turkmen and Uzbek presidents were able to utilize foreign policy for consolidating power. There are several studies that assess the enduring challenges affecting Turkmenistan’s democratization prospects. One of these challenges is the ongoing competition between various clans, which complicates nation building and the construction of a national identity. Looking at this problem through a historical lens, Edgar 2004 examines the interaction between Soviet nationality policies and indigenous notions of identity in the process of creating a Turkmen republic within the USSR. Denison 2009 explores the interplay of the official presentations of Turkmen history with the government’s commemorative strategies and people’s collective memory in the process of constructing a national identity in post-independence Turkmenistan.

                                                                                          • Abazov, Rafis. Historical Dictionary of Turkmenistan. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2005.

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                                                                                            Contains a short and comprehensive overview of the country, in the form of historical entries and over three hundred dictionary entries, many dedicated to the contemporary Turkmen politicians. Accompanied by a detailed chronology of major events, statistical data, and bibliography.

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                                                                                            • Anceschi, Luca. Turkmenistan’s Foreign Policy: Positive Neutrality and the Consolidation of the Turkmen Regime. Abingdon, UK, and New York: Routledge, 2008.

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                                                                                              Surveys the evolution of Turkmen regime from Niyazov to Berdymukhammedov and examines the country’s foreign-policy doctrine of positive neutrality and how it has served as an enabling force for reinforcing the absolute authority of the president. Offers strong sections on the cult of personality and economic foreign policy.

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                                                                                              • Anceschi, Luca. “Integrating Domestic Politics and Foreign Policy Making: The Cases of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.” Central Asian Survey 29.2 (2010): 143–158.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/02634937.2010.498231Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                A great read focusing on the interplay of foreign and domestic politics and demonstrating how the goals of preservation of authoritarian regimes affected foreign policy agendas, and how foreign policy has been utilized for promoting political stability in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

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                                                                                                • Blank, Stephen J. Turkmenistan and Central Asia after Niyazov. Carlisle, PA: Strategies Studies Institute, US Army War College, 2007.

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                                                                                                  Concise overview of internal and external struggles revolving around the issue of the succession to Niyazov. Written mostly from the standpoint of American foreign-policy interests. Contains a brief discussion of the issue of succession in other Central Asian authoritarian regimes. Includes bibliographical references and is available in an online version.

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                                                                                                  • Denison, Michael. “The Art of the Impossible: Political Symbolism, and the Creation of National Identity and Collective Memory in Post-Soviet Turkmenistan.” Europe-Asia Studies 61.7 (2009): 1167–1187.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/09668130903068715Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    Using a case study of the commemoration and symbolism of the Great Patriotic War, discusses strategies, symbols, and discourses used by the Turkmen post-Soviet elites in the construction of the national identity of Turkmenistan, where national identity was subsumed under the cult of personality of President Niyazov.

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                                                                                                    • Edgar, Adrienne Lynn. Tribal Nation: The Making of Soviet Turkmenistan. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                      Examines the creation of Soviet Turkmenistan. Demonstrates the interplay of Soviet policies, emphasizing the territorial and language-based foundations of nationhood along with indigenous notions of identity, and stressing this lineage in the formation of the Turkmen nation (which is discussed further under the Role of Informal Institutions).

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                                                                                                      • Peyrouse, Sébastien. Turkmenistan: Strategies of Power, Dilemmas of Development. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2011.

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                                                                                                        The most up-to-date survey of the history and early-21st-century politics, social relations, economic politics, and foreign policy of Turkmenistan. The section on the post-Soviet technologies of power is particularly useful for understanding authoritarian resilience in Turkmenistan.

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                                                                                                        Uzbekistan

                                                                                                        Democratic reforms have never made inroads in Uzbekistan. The country has become increasingly authoritarian since its independence and now offers few opportunities for reversing this trend and opening the space for democratic changes. Most of the studies of Uzbekistan’s politics, therefore, examine the historical roots and modern sources, manifestations, and implications of authoritarian rule in the country. Melvin 2000 provides a broad introduction to Uzbekistan’s history, politics, economics, and foreign relations. Fierman 1997 focuses on the critical years marking Uzbekistan’s transition from being a republic in the Soviet Union to becoming an independent state. Spechler 2008 has a more modern focus on the intersection of an authoritarian presidency and various aspects of the economic reforms in Uzbekistan. Spechler 2008 argues that, despite the authoritarian form of government, Uzbekistan has achieved modest economic growth, stability, income equality, and independence from the great powers. In Karimov 1998 the president of Uzbekistan himself reflects on the transformation that took place in Uzbekistan in the post-Soviet era, citing the challenges to security, stability, development, and geopolitical independence. Addressing the circumstances that led to the violence in Andijan in May 2005 and the aftermath of the tragedy, Lewis 2008 places Uzbekistan’s politics in the context of its relations with the United States and asks why the United States has failed to promote meaningful democratic reforms in the country. Citing the activities of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Lewis 2008 stresses the “Islamic challenge” to the rule of President Karimov, while Rasanayagam 2010 discusses the impact of brutal religious policies on the Uzbek Muslim population (see also Islam and Democracy). Noori 2006 discusses one of the traditional Uzbek institutions, the mahalla (i.e., an urban division built around familial ties and Islamic practices) and shows how the decentralization policies, which deferred the administration of critical state services to mahallas, led to a dramatic reduction in the availability of a wide range of public goods in Uzbekistan’s neighborhoods. Ilkhamov 2007 (also cited under the Role of Informal Institutions) inquires into the sources of the longevity of Uzbekistan’s authoritarian regime and argues that its resilience stems from its ability to take advantage of modern and traditional institutions and practices known under the rubric of neopatrimonialism. Laruelle 2017 reviews nearly three decades of post-independence Uzbekistan to provide a context for assessing the challenges facing the new administration that replaced Islam Karimov’s cabinet following his death in late 2016.

                                                                                                        • Fierman, William. “Political Development in Uzbekistan: Democratization?” In Conflict, Cleavage, and Change in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Edited by Karen Dawisha and Bruce Parrott, 360–408. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511559204Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          One of the earliest attempts at examining sources and strategies for survival and consolidation of an authoritarian regime. Focuses on the critical years immediately following Uzbekistan’s independence. Discusses legitimization strategies used by the Karimov cabinet.

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                                                                                                          • Ilkhamov, Alisher. “Neopatrimonialism, Interest Groups and Patronage Networks: The Impasses of the Governance System in Uzbekistan.” Central Asian Survey 26.1 (2007): 65–84.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/02634930701423491Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            What explains the longevity of Uzbekistan’s authoritarian regime? Placing the discussion of this question in the conceptual framework of neopatrimonialism, the article demonstrates how the sources of authoritarian resilience lie in the regime’s ability to benefit from formal and informal institutions and practices.

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                                                                                                            • Karimov, Islam. Uzbekistan on the Threshold of the Twenty-First Century: Challenges to Stability and Progress. New York: St. Martin’s, 1998.

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                                                                                                              Puts forth a highly propagandistic account of challenges faced by Uzbekistan during its transition, along with the prospects for building a stable and “democratic” state. Written largely for Western audiences, this collection of essays is nonetheless a valuable source that provides insight into the Uzbek leader’s own outlook on his country.

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                                                                                                              • Laruelle, Marlene, ed. Constructing the Uzbek State: Narratives of Post-Soviet Years. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2017.

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                                                                                                                Explores the political economy of Uzbekistan, including the links between elites and society. Discusses the changes and challenges posed by labor migration and difficulties associated with agricultural reform. Revisits the place of religion in Uzbekistan.

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                                                                                                                • Lewis, David. The Temptations of Tyranny in Central Asia. London: Hurst, 2008.

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                                                                                                                  Begins with a survey of events surrounding the Andijan massacre of May 2005. Discusses the failure of US cooperation with Uzbekistan to contribute to meaningful political transformations in this country. Also discusses more-recent developments in other Central Asian states, highlighting the challenge of radical Islam and geopolitical competition in Central Asia.

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                                                                                                                  • Melvin, Neil J. Uzbekistan: Transition to Authoritarianism on the Silk Road. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic, 2000.

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                                                                                                                    A very general introduction to Uzbekistan, intended for those who have had little exposure to the country. Provides a chronology of some key events and brief overviews of Uzbekistan’s history, culture, politics, economics, society, and foreign relations during the first decade since its independence.

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                                                                                                                    • Noori, Neema. “Expanding State Authority, Cutting Back Local Services: Decentralization and Its Contradictions in Uzbekistan.” Central Asian Survey 25.4 (2006): 533–549.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/02634930701210526Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      Discusses the nature and consequences of the so-called “mahalla initiative,” whereby the Uzbek government transferred the administration of critical state services to local institutions over the course of its decentralization reforms. Examines the negative consequences of these reforms on the availability of public goods to residents of mahallas and on women.

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                                                                                                                      • Rasanayagam, Johan. Islam in Post-Soviet Uzbekistan: The Morality of Experience. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511719950Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        An excellent ethnographic study of the little-understood aspects of Islam in Central Asia. Examines the sources of “Muslimness” for Uzbek Muslims and the impacts of authoritarianism on religious views, practices, and definitions of the place of Islam in people’s lives.

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                                                                                                                        • Spechler, Martin C. The Political Reform in Central Asia: Uzbekistan under Authoritarianism. Abingdon, UK, and New York: Routledge, 2008.

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                                                                                                                          Offers a brief historical overview of Uzbekistan but focuses on the economic aspects of transition. Highlights several positive features of Karimov’s rule, including modest economic growth and stability. Contains chapters comparing four Central Asian authoritarianisms along the dimensions of resource endowment and external relations.

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                                                                                                                          Cultural and Religious Explanations

                                                                                                                          The persistence of nondemocratic forms of governance in Central Asia and elsewhere in the post-Soviet territory has revived the debate about the role of culture, authoritarian and autocratic heritage, the lack of democratic experiences, and religion in shaping modern political developments in these states. Wittfogel 1981 is one of the earliest provocative readings relevant to the argument about cultural bases of authoritarianism. Karl Wittfogel argues that those preindustrial civilizations, which were dependent on large-scale waterworks for irrigation, were destined to develop absolutist managerial states. Although no post-1981 study of political regimes in Central Asia makes exclusively cultural claims, no work on Central Asia dismisses the impact of culture and history on modern political developments in the region. Several chapters in Cummings 2002 (also cited under General Overviews) stress the irrevocable impact of cultural forces on Central Asian political developments and institutions. Gleason 1997 highlights the impact of the region’s political culture on the development of authoritarian and dictatorial forms of governance in Central Asia. Rather than focusing on the abstract notion of culture, McChesney 1996 underscores the importance of the historical forms of legitimation and law for understanding political practices of Central Asian republics in the present. Matveeva 1999 also notes the Soviet legacy of cynicism and elements of conservative political culture as obstacles to the development of democratic values. Mohapatra 2006 examines the phenomenon of political culture and its impact on democratic developments in Central Asia across all republics, while Abazov 2003 discusses the phenomenon of traditional political culture in Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan is the focus of Fletcher and Sergeyev 2002, which investigates the role of Islamic beliefs in promoting or hindering political tolerance in Kyrgyzstan. (Additional readings on the impact of religion on political systems are cited under Islam and Democracy.)

                                                                                                                          • Abazov, Rafis. “The Political Culture of Central Asia: A Case of Kyrgyzstan.” In Political Culture Case Studies. Edited by Ella Akerman, 43–56. Camberley, UK: Conflict Studies Research Centre, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, 2003.

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                                                                                                                            Emphasizes the impact of traditional cultural norms and group psychology of the Kyrgyz society on Kyrgyzstan’s political culture and the country’s experiences with democratic reforms. Also discusses the impact of the Islamic factor on political processes in the country.

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                                                                                                                            • Cummings, Sally N., ed. Power and Change in Central Asia. Abingdon, UK, and New York: Routledge, 2002.

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                                                                                                                              Several chapters of the volume, particularly those written by Eugene Huskey and Roger Kangas, strongly endorse the cultural premise of Central Asian political and institutional development. Together with other essays, they offer a range of perspectives on the role of culture and history in shaping political developments in the region.

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                                                                                                                              • Fletcher, Joseph F., and Boris Sergeyev. “Islam and Intolerance in Central Asia: The Case of Kyrgyzstan.” Europe-Asia Studies 54.2 (2002): 251–275.

                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/09668130120116600Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                Provides a review of the literature dealing with the question of the impact of Islam on political beliefs. Assesses the role of Islam in promoting or hindering political tolerance in Kyrgyzstan.

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                                                                                                                                • Gleason, Gregory. The Central Asian States: Discovering Independence. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                  The book identifies several elements of political culture, such as the patriarchal streak, deference to authority, and general popular submissiveness, that inhibit the processes of democratization in Central Asian states. The bulk of the work is on the historical and economic evolution of the region and its individual countries.

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                                                                                                                                  • Matveeva, Anna. “Democratization, Legitimacy and Political Change in Central Asia.” International Affairs 75.1 (1999): 23–44.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1111/1468-2346.00058Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    Examines cultural and historical obstacles to democracy in the context of post-Soviet Central Asia and investigates the sources of legitimacy of these regimes. Highlights differences in the nature of threats to the legitimacy of regimes at the beginning of independence and modern challenges originating in the problems of development.

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                                                                                                                                    • McChesney, R. D. Central Asia: Foundations of Change. Princeton, NJ: Darwin, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                      Offers eloquently written essays that emerged from a series of lectures on Central Asia, covering a wide range of topics (e.g., history, religious background, culture, economic fundamentals, ethnicity). With its wealth of early original data, it is an accessible read for general readers and a valuable resource for specialists.

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                                                                                                                                      • Mohapatra, Nalin K. Political Culture and Democratic Development in Central Asia. New Delhi: Bookwell, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                        Examines the nature of the evolving political culture and democratic development in five states of Central Asia. Highlights the impact of informal institutions on the processes of democratization.

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                                                                                                                                        • Wittfogel, Karl. Oriental Despotism: A Comparative Study of Total Power. New York: Vintage, 1981.

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                                                                                                                                          Originally published in 1957. A provocative work that makes an argument about the interplay of culture, geography, and environment, and about locating the sources of despotism in economic (“hydraulic” agricultural) and cultural conditions of preindustrial societies. The title is misleading, since the book discusses societies outside of the “oriental” civilization.

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                                                                                                                                          Islam and Democracy

                                                                                                                                          Following the upsurge of global interest in Islam and Muslim societies, Central Asian Islam, too, has attracted considerable academic attention. The main question addressed by the studies pertaining to the topic of democracy and dictatorship in Central Asia concerns the political significance and impact of Islam on post-communist states and societies. Ro’i 2004 asks whether Islam in the post-Soviet space is necessarily a political factor and whether its message is intrinsically antidemocratic. Both Ro’i 2004 and Khalid 2007 are concerned with the essentialist view of Islam, which portrays it as political by nature and having a deleterious impact on gender equality and democratization. Both dispel this view. Ro’i argues that the radicalization of Islam is often a consequence of authoritarianism but is not a precursor to it. Fish 2002 approaches the relationship between Islam and regime type through a cross-national examination, which includes Central Asian republics in its sample, and demonstrates a democratic deficit in predominantly Muslim states. While most of the explanations of the Islam-politics nexus are not supported by M. Steven Fish, the subordination of women figures strongly in the tests as a factor associated with democratic underachievement. Khalid 2007 demonstrates how modern-day Islam in Central Asia has retained its largely apolitical nature and strong association with ethno-national traditions and identities, and how its representations have been marred by the politics and discourses of antiterrorism. Haghayeghi 1996, Peyrouse 2007, and Louw 2007 illuminate a great religious diversity within the region, dispensing with the alarmist claims about radical re-Islamicization of the region and prospects for the overthrow of the secular regimes by Islamist forces. In addition, Peyrouse 2007 discusses the ways in which Central Asian regimes have been able to co-opt Islam for their political purposes. Taking the argument about the role of Islam in nation building further, Hann and Pelkmans 2009 illuminates the governments’ attempts to co-opt, channel, and control religious expressions. Louw 2007 depicts Islam in Central Asia as an important marker for the Muslims’ identity, a source of their morality, and a tool for everyday problem solving. Rasanayagam 2010 (also cited under Uzbekistan) is another anthropological study of the ways Uzbek Muslims chart the space for their religious practice despite the restraints imposed by the authoritarian regime.

                                                                                                                                          • Fish, M. Steven. “Islam and Authoritarianism.” World Politics 55.1 (2002): 4–37.

                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1353/wp.2003.0004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                            One of the few statistical studies testing the relationship between Islam and regime type. Demonstrates the lack of democratic credentials of Muslim states, even controlling for other factors. Offers a tentative finding connecting authoritarianism in Muslim states to the subordinate status of women.

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                                                                                                                                            • Haghayeghi, Mehrdad. Islam and Politics in Central Asia. New York: St. Martin’s, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                              An accessible book that illuminates plurality of forms within Islam and its diversity in Central Asia. After a brief overview of Islam under communism, discusses Islamic revival and the relationship of Islam to ethnicity, politics, and the question of democracy.

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                                                                                                                                              • Hann, Chris, and Mathijs Pelkmans. “Realigning Religion and Power in Central Asia: Islam, Nation-State and (Post)socialism.” Europe-Asia Studies 61.9 (2009): 1517–1541.

                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/09668130903209111Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                Explores intersections between Islam and politics in Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Xingjian in historical perspective and in modern politics. Discusses how the understanding of these intersections can inform the views on the nature of secular powers.

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                                                                                                                                                • Khalid, Adeeb. Islam after Communism: Religion and Politics in Central Asia. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                  Insightful analysis of transformations and continuities of Islam in the Muslim societies as a result of Soviet policies. Most of the data comes from Uzbekistan. Valuable for its accessible presentation of the modern character of Islam in Central Asia, which retained a strong association with ethnic identities and traditions.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Louw, Maria E. Everyday Islam in Post-Soviet Central Asia. Abingdon, UK, and New York: Routledge, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                    Contains a detailed account of the everyday practices of Islam in Uzbekistan, including the local forms of Sufism and saint veneration, with some illustrations from other parts of Central Asia. Challenges many Sovietological, essentialist, and modern Western assumptions about Islam.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Peyrouse, Sebastien. “Islam in Central Asia: National Specificities and Post-Soviet Globalization.” Religion, State and Society 35.3 (2007): 245–260.

                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/09637490701458676Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      Raises provocative questions about the ways Central Asian governments were able to resolve dilemmas of coexistence of secular states with religious societies, embracing and resisting Islam and making it part of national identity while simultaneously fighting its “extremist” manifestations.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Rasanayagam, Johan. Islam in Post-Soviet Uzbekistan: The Morality of Experience. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511719950Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        Anthropological study of Islam in Uzbekistan, which also shows the ways in which the repressive political system can shape the moral contexts of people’s lives, their understandings of what it means to be Muslims, and their religious practices.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Ro’i, Yaacov. “Islam in the FSU—an Inevitable Impediment to Democracy?” In Democracy and Pluralism in Muslim Eurasia. Edited by Yaacov Ro’i, 101–118. London and New York: Frank Cass, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                          A short study of Islam’s politicization in the early 1990s in the Muslim territories of the former Soviet Union (FSU), using examples from the Caucasus and Central Asia. Discusses the relationship of Islam to democracy and political pluralism.

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                                                                                                                                                          Institutional Explanations

                                                                                                                                                          The main thrust of studies since the late 20th century on Central Asia is that neither culture nor history predicts the region’s destiny. Although cultural and historical forces can shape and constrain political choices made by the governments of Central Asian states, they do not determine the nature and outcomes of political processes in the region. Perlman and Gleason 2007, for example, argues that the governments’ rational policy choices rather than cultural values played a determining role in administrative changes in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, republics with similar cultural traditions and historical legacies but different paths of administrative reforms. Schatz 2006 argues that political developments, such as opening a space for democratic activities, can be an unintended consequence of some of the choices made by Central Asian political elites. The Kazakhstani elite, for example, made a choice of claiming their legitimacy on the basis of its commitment to international engagement, and these claims had an unintended but consequential impact on opening access to Kazakhstan’s civil society by international actors. Anderson 1997 shows how Central Asian elites have used the electoral medium for affirming their positions. Way 2010 explores the sources of authoritarian organizational capacity across seven post-Soviet countries, and the author argues that autocrats are more likely to survive and strengthen their rule if a highly institutionalized ruling party and robust coercive apparatus back them. A collection of works in Ahrens and Hoen 2013 take a firm position that institutions are the single most important determinant of a state’s economic performance and a pivotal force in its political transformation; it is precisely the weaknesses of institution building that hindered Central Asian republics’ prospects for change. Luong 2002 (also cited under General Overviews) moves beyond structural or agency-based explanations of democratic transformations in Central Asia and offers an approach that depicts the institutional design of electoral systems in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan as the result of bargaining games happening within the structural-historical and immediate-strategic contexts affecting perceptions of elites and their bargaining strategies.

                                                                                                                                                          • Ahrens, Joachim, and Herman W. Hoen, eds. Institutional Reform in Central Asia: Politico-economic Challenges. New York: Routledge, 2013.

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                                                                                                                                                            A collection of case studies examining key aspects of institution building, economic reforms, and political governance in all Central Asian republics. Interdisciplinary in nature and suitable for area specialists, economists, and students of comparative politics.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Anderson, John. “Elections and Political Development in Central Asia.” Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics 13.4 (1997): 28–53.

                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/13523279708415359Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              Discusses the role of “pseudo-elections” in the political developments of modern Central Asia. Shows how traditional mechanisms of representation have been turned into the methods for reinforcing powers of governing elites and tools for “anaesthetizing” the population.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Luong, Pauline Jones. Institutional Change and Political Continuity in Post-Soviet Central Asia: Power, Perceptions, and Pacts. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511510199Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                Written from a comparative institutional perspective, offers a robust analysis of the sources and designs of electoral systems in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. Offers an insightful approach for explaining the institutional outcomes of transition, which transcends the structure-agency debate.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Perlman, Bruce J., and Gregory Gleason. “Cultural Determinism versus Administrative Logic: Asian Values and Administrative Reform in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.” International Journal of Public Administration 30.12–14 (2007): 1327–1342.

                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1080/01900690701229475Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                  Reviews, criticizes, and demonstrates the deficiencies of cultural explanations in accounting for differences in the nature and outcomes of administrative reforms in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Puts forth a more nuanced interpretation of the influence of cultural values on the processes of policymaking and policy implementation.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Schatz, Edward. “Access by Accident: Legitimacy Claims and Democracy Promotion in Authoritarian Central Asia.” International Political Science Review 27.3 (2006): 263–284.

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1177/0192512106064463Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    Offers a concise overview of “soft” and “hard” forms of authoritarianism in Central Asia, linking the differences in authoritarian forms to the extent of involvement of democracy advocates in the politics of these countries. Demonstrates how a democratic opening can be an unintended consequence of the ways political elites frame their legitimacy.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Way, Lucan. “Resistance to Contagion: Sources of Authoritarian Stability in the Former Soviet Union.” In Democracy and Authoritarianism in the Postcommunist World. Edited by Valerie Bunce, Michael McFaul, and Kathryn Stoner-Weiss, 229–252. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Explains the survivability and strength of authoritarian institutions through three sources: ruling party strength, state coercive capacity, and state control over wealth. Uses the combination of these factors to explain outcomes of democratization in seven post-Soviet countries.

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                                                                                                                                                                      The Role of Informal Institutions

                                                                                                                                                                      An increasing number of works on Central Asia acknowledge the impact of the so-called “fourth branch of government,” a dense and pervasive system of informal politics and institutions, on various aspects of economic and political governance and prospects for democratization. There is still a limited number of works in this field, largely because of the hidden and opaque nature of informal politics that helps it evade scholarly analysis and observation. Gleason 1991 is one of the early attempts at looking “below the formal political institutions of Central Asia” to discern powerful and resilient informal authority structures, which developed as a result of interactions of the Soviet and local norms of authority and practices of governance. Anderson 1997 deals with the informal politics associated with national, regional, and tribal networks and their impact on political developments in five Central Asian republics since their independence. Ilkhamov 2007 illuminates the concept of neopatrimonialism, and the frameworks that embrace it, as a useful alternative to modernization and transition theories for explaining the endurance of authoritarian regimes. In Ilkhamov 2007 the notion of the neopatrimonial regime, which embraces legal-rational and informal components of governance, is used to explain the resilience of Uzbekistan’s regime to internal and external challenges. Collins 2004, Collins 2006, and Schatz 2004 explore the roots and political roles of one specific manifestation of informal politics and institutions—namely, clans—which are informal networks of individuals linked by actual and fictitious (based on friendship or marriage) kin-based ties. To achieve their main purpose of providing well-being and security for the clans’ members, clans engage in a variety of nondemocratic practices, such as clientelism and patronage, which can also undermine civil and political rights. Collins 2004 and Collins 2006 do this comparatively across all the states of Central Asia, while Schatz 2004 (also cited under Kazakhstan) focuses on clans in Kazakhstan. Isaacs 2011 (also cited under Kazakhstan) also concentrates on informal politics and its impact on transition in Kazakhstan but underscores the dynamic relationship between neopatrimonial and formal institutions, through a case study of party system formation. McGlinchey 2011 examines the Soviet policies in Central Asia that planted the seeds of neopatrimonialism, and also how these informal institutions, along with other political legacies and Islam, have affected political courses in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. The concept of neopatrimonialism is subjected to critical reevaluation in Isaacs 2014, which suggests combining it with additional analytical approaches and concepts for resolving difficulties with its application.

                                                                                                                                                                      • Anderson, John. The International Politics of Central Asia. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Begins with a concise overview of the Russian and Soviet history of the region but focuses on the politics of identity and informal politics of Central Asian states since their independence.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Collins, Kathleen. “The Logic of Clan Politics: Evidence from the Central Asian Trajectories.” World Politics 56.2 (2004): 224–261.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1353/wp.2004.0009Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          A shorter version of Collins 2006. Presents the arguments and evidence in a concise manner and can substitute for the book in a class, where the subject of informal networks and clans takes up a small part of the curriculum.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Collins, Kathleen. Clan Politics and Regime Transition in Central Asia. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511510014Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            A detailed comparative survey of clans and their networks in the history and modern politics of Central Asian states, on the basis of extensive field research. Can be used for demonstrating how clans affect and constrain these states’ democratic transformations.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Gleason, Gregory. “Fealty and Loyalty: Informal Authority Structures in Soviet Asia.” Soviet Studies 43.4 (1991): 613–628.

                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/09668139108411951Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              Illuminates what lay beneath the “dual allegiances” of local Central Asian officials during the Soviet era, and how the interplay of local and Soviet central rules and patterns of governance resulted in a wider range of informal practices in post-independence Central Asia.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Ilkhamov, Alisher. “Neopatrimonialism, Interest Groups and Patronage Networks: The Impasses of the Governance System in Uzbekistan.” Central Asian Survey 26.1 (2007): 65–84.

                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/02634930701423491Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                Ilkhamov is persuasive in suggesting and explaining the usefulness of the frameworks embracing the notion of neopatrimonialism as a conceptual tool for analyzing regimes in Central Asia. He demonstrates the utility of the concept on a case study of the durability of the authoritarian regime in Uzbekistan.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Isaacs, Rico. Party System Formation in Kazakhstan: Between Formal and Informal Politics. Central Asian Studies 26. New York: Routledge, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Presents Kazakhstan’s party system as a form of institutionalized neopatrimonialism combining traditional politics, patrimonial communism, and modern democratic institutions. A key reading for understanding the emergence and persistence of personalist and clientelist parties and hyperpresidential personality-based political systems.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Isaacs, Rico. “Neopatrimonialism and Beyond: Reassessing the Formal and Informal in the Study of Central Asian Politics.” Contemporary Politics 20.2 (2014): 229–245.

                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/13569775.2014.907989Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                    Offers critical assessment of the conceptual utility of neopatrimonialism frameworks for the study of Central Asian politics. Highlights three major challenges with these frameworks, including the difficulties with separating empirically and ontologically the formal and informal politics and operationalizing neopatrimonialism, and the inherent normativity of the concept.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • McGlinchey, Eric. Chaos, Violence, Dynasty: Politics and Islam in Central Asia. Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburgh University Press, 2011.

                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5vkhbqSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                      A comparative study of divergent political paths of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, emphasizing the role of informal institutions and Islam. Traces the roots of early-21st-century neopatrimonial regimes to the Soviet era. Offers a novel way of thinking about politics in authoritarian regimes.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Schatz, Edward. Modern Clan Politics: The Power of “Blood” in Kazakhstan and Beyond. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Examines clan politics in Kazakhstan. Discusses the challenges posed by informal institutions to Western comparative politics and theories of transition and modernization. Addresses policy implications of kin-based clan divisions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        The “Resource Curse” and Democracy

                                                                                                                                                                                        Since the late 1990s, Central Asia has seen a rapidly expanding presence of Russian, American, Chinese, European, and other states’ business interests. The reason is obvious: two states of the region are a repository of untapped natural resources, particularly gas and oil. Turkmenistan sits on top of one of the world’s largest natural gas fields, while Kazakhstan’s Tengiz oil field has been ranked among the world’s ten largest. Tengiz was one of the new oil discoveries in the Caspian Sea basin that led to the oil boom in the region, and Naijman, et al. 2007 examines the economic and political consequences of this Caspian Sea oil boom. Concerns have been raised about the impact of the wealth derived from natural resources, especially gas and oil, on the politics and economies of the producing countries. Many states with large natural endowments have registered lower economic-growth rates, deficiencies of governance, and other problems associated with what became known as the “resource curse.” Pomfret 2006 offers a thorough, data-filled analysis of economic developments in each Central Asian republic since their independence, and the author provides valuable insights into these states’ different degrees of dependency on natural resources (oil, gas, minerals, cotton, and water), including how this dependence has affected their economic prospects, both domestically and internationally. Auty and de Soysa 2006; Franke, et al. 2009; Luong and Weinthal 2010; and Kalyuzhnova 2006 examine the impact of mineral resources on various political and economic outcomes, such as policy transparency, public oversight, and effective management of revenues, faced by the resource-rich countries. Bayulgen 2005 explores the relationship between external capital flows and regime trajectories of the states of Central Asia and the Caucasus, arguing that a considerable amount of foreign capital settles in the pockets of authoritarian governments. This serves as a disincentive for democratizing their political systems or furthering market reforms. Although Humphreys, et al. 2007 does not focus on Central Asia, the chapters of this volume, prepared by leading economists, lawyers, and political scientists, cite Central Asian states and discuss the impact of an abundance of natural resources (predominantly oil) on certain political outcomes, such as the lack of transparency, accountability, and weak institutions. Markowitz 2013 shifts focus from gas and oil to other types of “immobile capital”—for example, cash crops such as cotton—to demonstrate how different rent-seeking opportunities connected to the control of “unlootable” resources can promote the co-optation of local elites to the regime or provoke competition over rents, thus resulting either in state cohesion or fragmentation.

                                                                                                                                                                                        • Auty, Richard, and Indra de Soysa, eds. Energy, Wealth and Governance in the Caucasus and Central Asia: Lessons Not Learned. Abingdon, UK, and New York: Routledge, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          An easy-to-read collection of articles that examine the impact of natural resources and their management, the transitions of these nations to market economies, and some aspects of political development of the Caucasus and Central Asia.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Bayulgen, Oksan. “Foreign Capital in Central Asia and the Caucasus: Curse or Blessing?” Communist and Post-Communist Studies 38.1 (2005): 49–69.

                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1016/j.postcomstud.2005.01.007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                            Demonstrates how the nature of authoritarian regimes in the post-independence states of Central Asia and the Caucasus varies depending on the magnitude and composition of external capital flows from foreign sources.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Franke, Anja, Andrea Gawrich, and Gurban Alakbarov. “Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan as Post-Soviet Rentier States: Resource Incomes and Autocracy as a Double ‘Curse’ in Post-Soviet Regimes.” Europe-Asia Studies 61.1 (2009): 109–140.

                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/09668130802532977Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                              Offers a comparative analysis of the two rentier states, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, characterized by dependence on the export of natural resources, poorly diversified economies, and neopatrimonial and authoritarian institutional structures of government.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Humphreys, Macartan, Jeffrey D. Sachs, and Joseph E. Stiglitz, eds. Escaping the Resource Curse. Initiative for Policy Dialogue at Columbia. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                The chapters included in this volume jointly provide a comprehensive overview of a variety of problems in political, economic, social, managerial, and other realms associated with the abundance of oil. Considers economic and political solutions to the “resource curse,” many of which are somewhat optimistic if not entirely politically unfeasible.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Kalyuzhnova, Yelena. “Overcoming the Curse of Hydrocarbon: Goals and Governance in the Oil Funds of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.” Comparative Economic Studies 48.4 (2006): 583–613.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.ces.8100160Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Examines the impact of oil funds created in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan on microeconomic and energy policies. Does not connect the “resource curse” to issues of democracy directly but contributes to an understanding of the impact of resources on political systems indirectly through the effects of resources on governance.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Luong, Pauline Jones, and Erika Weinthal. Oil Is Not a Curse: Ownership Structure and Institutions in Soviet Successor States. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511779435Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Shows how the mineral-rich states are cursed not by their wealth, but by weak institutions responsible for the management of their mineral resources. Tests the “resource curse” argument on five petroleum-rich post-Soviet states. Includes a wealth of comparative data on energy-related aspects of economies.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Markowitz, Lawrence P. State Erosion: Unlootable Resources and Unruly Elites in Central Asia. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801451874.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Uses case studies of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the two Central Asian republics with low capital mobility, to demonstrate how resources can provide ample opportunities for corruption and looting. Accompanied by the tug of war between local and central authorities, unlootable resources and rent seeking can contribute to the emergence of fragile and failed states.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Naijman, Boris, Richard Pomfret, and Gaël Raballand, eds. The Economics and Politics of Oil in the Caspian Basin: The Redistribution of Oil Revenues in Azerbaijan and Central Asia. Abingdon, UK, and New York: Routledge, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        A data-packed volume containing case studies and macro- and microeconomic analyses of the experiences of the Caspian Sea basin countries during the oil boom. Dedicates several chapters to Kazakhstan. Focuses on the economic repercussions of the oil boom.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Pomfret, Richard. The Central Asian Economies since Independence. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          An excellent examination of economic developments in each Central Asian state, and an assessment of their comparative economic performance. Contains a wealth of data on various indicators of economic performance, as well as a discussion of how to measure it. Offers explanations both for choices of economic models and their consequences.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          Promoting Democracy in Central Asia

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Initially, the study of political regimes in Central Asia was approached from the standpoint of comparative politics and its subfield of transitology. It is only more recently, since the 1990s, that an international dimension was introduced into the study of democratization in the region, giving rise to a new stream of literature on democracy promotion in Central Asia. Burnell and Schlumberger 2010 addresses the issue of the late attention given to international variables in democratization, and the even-later discovery of democracy promotion as a topic for scholarly research. Peter Burnell and Oliver Schlumberger suggest expanding the existing research program beyond the analyses of international factors promoting democratic rule abroad, but also giving consideration to those international forces, which might work to assist in the perseverance of authoritarian regimes. Indeed, until the early 21st century the literature on international democratization largely focused on the methods and approaches to democracy promotion. Tudoroiu 2010, for example, discusses the shift in perspective from comparative to international relations and focuses on international socialization as an approach to democratization. Whitehead 1996 offers a three-fold classification of various strategies of international influence, comprising contagion, control, and consent. Warkotsch 2008 discusses normative suasion, a mechanism of socialization based on complex learning and persuasion. Without adhering to any theoretical perspective or approach to international influence, Rumer, et al. 2007 discusses the evolution of foreign-policy perspectives and practices of the United States, Russia, and China in regard to Central Asian states. Omelicheva 2015 (also cited under Promoting Autocracy in Central Asia) provides an overview of the content of democracy promotion instruments used by the United States and European Union in Central Asia, and discusses the ineffectiveness of international democratization in the region.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Burnell, Peter, and Oliver Schlumberger. “Promoting Democracy—Promoting Autocracy? International Politics and National Political Regimes.” Contemporary Politics 16.1 (2010): 1–15.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/13569771003593805Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Beginning with a debate-like introduction addressing the opposite perspectives on the status of democracy in the world, the article proceeds to suggest directions for future research on international influences on political regimes in individual countries. Also surveys the emergence of literature on international democratization.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Omelicheva, Mariya Y. Democracy in Central Asia? Competing Perspectives and Alternative Strategies. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2015.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813160689.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Examines the beliefs and values underlying democratization policies of the European Union and United states in order to understand and assess their efforts at influencing political change in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. Shifts the focus from the methods to messages of international democratization.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Rumer, Eugene B., Dmitri Trenin, and Huasheng Zhao. Central Asia: Views from Washington, Moscow, and Beijing. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                Lacks a theoretical framework but contains a wealth of empirical material on Russian, Chinese, and American foreign policy toward Central Asia. Can be used with other conceptual/theoretical readings on democracy/autocracy promotion. Contains policy-oriented recommendations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Tudoroiu, Theodor. “Post-communist Democratization Revisited: An International Relations Approach.” Perspectives on European Politics and Society 11.1 (2010): 80–108.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1080/15705850903553661Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Discusses a shift from “transitology” to “Europeanization” in democratization literature, introduces an international socialization approach grounded in a constructivist perspective on international relations, and reviews strategies of socialization used by the Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) in Europe, the European Union (EU), and the North American Trade Organization (NATO) toward the central and eastern European states.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Warkotsch, Alexander. “Normative Suasion and Political Change in Central Asia.” Caucasian Review of International Affairs 2.4 (2008): 240–249.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Discusses strengths and weakness of different mechanisms of international socialization and assesses the EU’s strategy for socializing Central Asia toward human rights and democracy. Argues for the importance of a cultural resonance of the socialization strategies with political and social experiences of the democratizing societies. Offers policy recommendations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Whitehead, Laurence. “Three International Dimensions of Democratization.” In The International Dimensions of Democratization: Europe and the Americas. Edited by Laurence Whitehead, 3–26. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      An introduction to the literature on types and sources of international influences. Suggests a classification dividing international influence into three groups—contagion, control, and consent—and discusses actors, processes, and motivations under each heading. Useful as a starting point for theorizing international democratization.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The European Union

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The EU has established itself as an international actor with a strong commitment to democratic principles and norms. It has been one of the largest donors of democracy assistance in the world, including in Central Asia. This region, however, has provided a tough test for Europe’s commitment to democratization. Warkotsch 2010 provides a critical assessment of the EU’s policy instruments and types of projects in Central Asia, and it discusses a difficult trade-off that all democracy promoters face, that between short-term strategic interests and normative commitments. Building on the latter theme, Crawford 2008 examines the interaction between the expressions of normative principles and the operation of self-interests in the practices of the EU. Crawford 2008 criticizes the EU for letting its strategic objectives override human rights and democracy considerations in the hierarchy of the EU’s foreign-policy priorities. Shifting the focus on the methods of international democratization, Warkotsch 2008 highlights the shortcomings of the EU strategy for the socialization of Central Asia into human rights and democracy. Delcour 2011 addresses the challenges in promoting regionalization in Central Asia. Warkotsch 2011 gives a more balanced consideration to various frameworks for EU–Central Asian cooperation and assesses the EU’s performance in meeting the goals of a new strategy for partnership with Central Asian countries adopted in 2007. Magen and McFaul 2009 compares European and American strategies for democracy promotion, and it highlights important similarities and differences of the European and American perspectives.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Crawford, Gordon. “EU Human Rights and Democracy Promotion in Central Asia: From Lofty Principles to Lowly Self-Interests.” Perspectives on European Politics and Society 9.2 (2008): 172–191.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/15705850801999669Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        One of the strongest and most-compelling criticisms of the EU as a normative actor. Through an examination of the EU’s activities in Central Asia, Crawford shows how the EU’s short-term interests often trump its normative commitments and, in this way, indirectly contribute to the strengthening of authoritarian regimes in the region.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Delcour, Laure. Shaping the Post-Soviet Space? EU Policies and Approaches to Region-Building. Farnham, UK, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The book has a broad scope encompassing different actors and levels of action in EU foreign policymaking regarding the members of the Commonwealth of Independent States, and international relations of the post-Soviet states with other regional actors. Contains a separate chapter examining these dynamics in Central Asia.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Magen, Amichai, and Michael A. McFaul. “Introduction: American and European Strategies to Promote Democracy—Shared Values, Common Challenges, Diverging Tools?” In Promoting Democracy and the Rule of Law: American and European Strategies. Edited by Amichai Magen, Thomas Risse, and Michael A. McFaul, 1–33. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1057/9780230244528Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Highlights similarities of values and objectives underlying democracy promotion by actors on different sides of the Atlantic. Reviews different “logics” of international influence. Offers a concise comparison of the European and American strategies of international democratization.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Warkotsch, Alexander. “Normative Suasion and Political Change in Central Asia.” Caucasian Review of International Affairs 2.4 (2008): 240–249.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Examines EU democracy promotion in Central Asia through the framework of international socialization and one of its methods of normative suasion. Points to deficiencies of the EU’s policy approach. Suggests a recalibration of the EU’s democratization efforts on certain aspects of human rights and governance.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Warkotsch, Alexander. “Central Asia: Limited Modernization.” In European Union and Democracy Promotion: A Critical Global Assessment. Edited by Richard Youngs, 99–114. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Offers a very concise and accessible examination of the cumbersome toolkit of the EU’s policy instruments and projects in Central Asia. Overviews the new strategy for partnership with Central Asia adopted by the EU in 2007. Argues that, on deeper consideration, the EU has demonstrated a weak commitment to democracy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Warkotsch, Alexander, ed. The European Union and Central Asia. Abingdon, UK, and New York: Routledge, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The most comprehensive overview of the frameworks, toolkits, and areas of cooperation between the EU and Central Asia. Chapters of the volume go beyond the EU’s impact on democratization, human rights, and the rule of law to include security, environment, energy, and other aspects of EU assistance to the region.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The United States

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Democracy promotion has been named as one of the cornerstones of US foreign policy. In practical terms, US efforts at democracy assistance have been inconsistent, and its democracy promotion programs have seen various levels of success. Carothers 1999 offers a general historical overview of the field of democracy assistance, together with a structured analysis and assessment of US democracy programs related to elections, political parties, government reform, rule of law, civil society, and independent media. Roberts 2009 provides a concise overview of the history of US democracy assistance to Central Asia, and of the lessons learned from these historical experiences, and it points out ways in which they should inform future policies toward the region. Both Carothers 1999 and Roberts 2009 agree on the importance of a more sophisticated understanding of historical, cultural, and modern political, economic, and other factors on the countries’ engagement with democracy. Rumer, et al. 2007 and Laumulin 2007 discuss normative elements of US foreign policy toward the region, in the context of broader American policies regarding geopolitics and geostrategy. Magen and McFaul 2009 compares the US approach to democracy assistance with that of the EU. In a rejoinder to critics of US efforts to promote democracy in other countries, McFaul 2010 attempts to make a case for why democracy assistance should not be taken off the US foreign policy agenda, and the author shows how it can be turned into a successful and effective strategy for supporting democratic developments worldwide. The conflict between interests and ideals is the subject of Crosston 2006 and Cooley 2008, with both highlighting the fact that the US government’s relationships with countries hosting US military bases or otherwise strategically important to the United States get politicized. Cooley 2012 portrays US involvement in Central Asia as part of a new geostrategic game for influence over the region against Russia and China. The Central Asian regimes that set their own terms for foreign presence in the region are the real winners of this game. Crosston 2006 goes further to suggest that by focusing on short-term security assistance in authoritarian regimes, the US government has unwittingly created propitious conditions for extremism and anti-Americanism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Carothers, Thomas. Aiding Democracy Abroad: The Learning Curve. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    On the basis of extensive field research and years of practical experience, the book contains a concise historical overview of democracy promotion and a critical assessment of a wide range of democracy programs carried out by the United States in Guatemala, Nepal, Zambia, and Romania. Offers an analytical framework for thinking about democracy promotion and raises numerous questions for further discussion and research.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Cooley, Alexander. Base Politics: Democratic Change and the U.S. Military Overseas. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Examines the fates and fortunes of US military bases overseas, including in Central Asia, especially during the periods when these states undergo democratic transition. Discusses how overseas bases become enmeshed in local political agendas and interests.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Cooley, Alexander. Great Games, Local Rules: The New Great Power Contest in Central Asia. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199929825.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Illuminates US strategic goals in Central Asia, juxtaposed to the competing interests of Russia and China. Dedicates separate thematic chapters to questions of human rights and corruption.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Crosston, Matthew. Fostering Fundamentalism: Terrorism, Democracy and American Engagement in Central Asia. US Foreign Policy and Conflict in the Islamic World. Aldershot, UK, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Highly critical of US foreign policy toward Central Asia. Uses the case study of Ferghana Valley, divided between Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, to shed light on the US government’s neglect of democratic backsliding in the region in an effort to remain strategically engaged in Central Asia.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Laumulin, Murat. “U.S. Strategy and Policy in Central Asia.” Central Asia and the Caucasus 4.46 (2007): 46–56.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Written from a Central Asian perspective in an essay-like format, the article discusses the multifaceted nature of US foreign policy and activities in Central Asia, as well as broader regional and global contexts.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Magen, Amichai, and Michael A. McFaul. “Introduction: American and European Strategies to Promote Democracy—Shared Values, Common Challenges, Diverging Tools?” In Promoting Democracy and the Rule of Law: American and European Strategies. Edited by Amichai Magen, Thomas Risse, and Michael A. McFaul, 1–33. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1057/9780230244528Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A concise and general overview of the US strategies of democracy assistance. Discusses similarities and differences in values, objectives, and approaches to democracy assistance in the United States and Europe.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • McFaul, Michael. Advancing Democracy Abroad: Why We Should and How We Can. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Written as a rejoinder to the backlash against democracy promotion in general, and to US democracy assistance in particular. McFaul tries to make a case for democracy assistance by decoupling the notion from Bush-era policies, revisiting the merits of democracy and pointing to successful strategies for international democratization.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Roberts, Sean. Saving Democracy Promotion from Short-Term U.S. Policy Interests in Central Asia. New York: Century Foundation, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Contains a concise historical overview of US democracy assistance to Central Asia and assesses these efforts very critically. Attributes the failure of US democracy assistance to the neglect of historical and cultural factors affecting the region’s engagement with democracy, and to demands for a long-term strategy focused on changing people’s attitudes and behavior.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Rumer, Eugene B., Dmitri Trenin, and Huasheng Zhao. Central Asia: Views from Washington, Moscow, and Beijing. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Offers a US foreign-policy perspective on Central Asian (in conjunction with Russian and Chinese) foreign-policy views on Central Asian states. Addresses the clash between normative commitments and geopolitical considerations in US foreign policy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Promoting democratization is one of the foundational goals of the OSCE, the world’s largest regional security organization. Along with the United States and the European Union, the OSCE has been active in Central Asia in promoting a wide-ranging agenda that includes political reform, human rights, security, post-conflict resolution, good governance, and economic and environmental matters in the region. Ghebali 2004 examines the rationale for adding a Eurasian dimension to the OSCE and offers a historical overview and analysis of the OSCE’s Central Asian policy. Freire 2005 examines the novel challenges facing the OSCE, both in general and with regard to its policies and actions in Central Asia. In particular, Maria Freire addresses whether the OSCE’s institutions and commitments can effectively address the post-9/11 threats of terrorism while simultaneously promoting good governance, democracy, and human rights. Boonstra 2010 questions whether the OSCE will be able to remain a relevant actor on the post-Soviet space, or whether it will turn into a “paper tiger” that can threaten the nondemocratic regimes with political statements but lacks the power to enforce those threats. Van Lohuizen 2010 assesses the impact of Kazakhstan’s chairmanship of the OSCE in 2010 on the country’s political processes, as well as on the politics and status of the organization. Russo and Gawrich 2017 compares and contrasts the norms and policies of OSCE in Central Asia with those of the Council of Europe, Commonwealth of Independent States, and Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Boonstra, Jos. “Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe: A Paper Tiger?” In The European Union and Democracy Promotion: A Critical Global Assessment. Edited by Richard Youngs, 78–98. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Assesses early-21st-century trends in and outside the OSCE, which Boonstra claims have emasculated the organization. Points to the expansion of the EU and NATO, which supplanted the OSCE but failed to promote democratization, and Russia’s push for reform of the OSCE in order to limit its democratizing role.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Freire, Maria Raquel. “The OSCE’s Post-September 11 Agenda, and Central Asia.” Global Society 19.2 (2005): 189–209.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/13600820500044910Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Surveys the OSCE’s institutional and policy frameworks for meeting the goals of its broad political and security agendas. Examines how the OSCE has tried to address novel security threats while staying committed to its foundational values and principles.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Ghebali, Victor-Yves. “OSCE Regional Policy in Central Asia: Rationale and Limits.” In The OSCE and the Multiple Challenges of Transition: The Caucasus and Central Asia. Edited by Farian Sabahi and Daniel Warner, 3–12. Aldershot, UK, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Offers a concise overview of the development of OSCE’s Central Asian policy, as well as ongoing obstacles to its full-fledged implementation. Shows how the OSCE is well positioned to meet multiple challenges facing the Central Asian states, despite the lack of financial resources.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Russo, Alessandra, and Andrea Gawrich. “Overlap with Contestation? Comparing Norms and Policies of Regional Organizations in the Post-Soviet Space.” Central Asian Survey 36.3 (2017): 331–352.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/02634937.2017.1281222Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Juxtaposes views and policies on human and security dimensions espoused by the OSCE and the Council of Europe to those of two competing regional organizations spearheaded by Russia: the Commonwealth of Independent States and Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Conceptualizes the differences and overlaps in policies and their effects on regional governance.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • van Lohuizen, Matthias. “Kazakhstan as the OSCE Chairman-in-Office 2010: Success or Failure for the Organization.” Security and Human Rights 21.4 (2010): 269–278.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1163/187502310794895416Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Discusses the contentious decision to grant Kazakhstan the chairmanship of the OSCE, and provides a preliminary assessment of the ways in which this prestigious role affected Kazakhstan’s democratization as well as the politics and status of the OSCE.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Promoting Autocracy in Central Asia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              One of the current trends in the broader literature on external actors and democratization is to examine international forces that promote nondemocratic models of governance and development, resist the spread of democratic institutions, and obstruct international democratization in other ways, including by providing economic support and political backing to authoritarian rulers. The literature on Central Asia, which follows this line of research, has explored the roles of external actors, such as Russia, China, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), in sustaining authoritarian regimes in Central Asia. Many studies have also begun to engage in explicit efforts at theorizing the process of “autocratization.” Kavalski 2007 and Kavalski 2010a address the role of China in Central Asia as an individual normative actor promoting its values and norms in the region (Kavalski 2010a) or vis-à-vis the international agency of the European Union (EU) (see Kavalski 2007). Ambrosio 2009 devises a typology of authoritarian resistance to international democracy promotion by Russia and demonstrates various strategies of authoritarian resistance in several post-Soviet states. Jackson 2010 also focuses on Russia’s influence on Central Asia and identifies four avenues—norms, diffusion, the use of cultural and strategic power, and regional organizations—through which Russia has strengthened Central Asia’s authoritarianisms. Ambrosio 2008 attempts to theorize ways in which international organizations can promote both democratization and authoritarianism, and it also demonstrates how the SCO has been utilized by the authoritarian governments of its member states to preserve their political power. Bader, et al. 2010 employs a rational-choice model to explain why and under what circumstances powerful autocracies prefer autocratic states in their neighborhoods. Kavalski 2010b uses a critical geopolitics perspective to examine the multifarious and simultaneous effects of major international actors that try to exert their influence in Central Asia. Omelicheva 2015 (also cited under Promoting Democracy in Central Asia) discusses Russia’s and China’s efforts at counteracting Western democratization through the dissemination of their own ideological conceptions of the proper forms of governance and arguments about the ills of democratization.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Ambrosio, Thomas. “Catching the ‘Shanghai Spirit’: How the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Promotes Authoritarian Norms in Central Asia.” Europe-Asia Studies 60.8 (2008): 1321–1344.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/09668130802292143Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Places the discussion of the SCO within the broader literature on the impact of international organizations on democratization. Examines SCO policy statements to demonstrate how the organization’s values and norms run counter to the spread of democracy, and how its rhetoric has been utilized by the authoritarian regimes for preserving their power.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Ambrosio, Thomas. Authoritarian Backlash: Russian Resistance to Democratization in the Former Soviet Union. Aldershot, UK, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Explores the authoritarian backlash against democracy and offers a typology of forms of authoritarian resistance to democratization, including regime insulation and bolstering, subverting, and coordinating action. Uses Russia’s policies toward the former Soviet republics to demonstrate strategies of authoritarian resistance.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Bader, Julia, Jörn Grävingholt, and Antje Kästner. “Would Autocracies Promote Autocracy? A Political Economy Perspective on Regime-Type Export in Regional Neighborhoods.” Comparative Politics 16.1 (2010): 81–100.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Offers a robust theoretical account for why autocracies form preferences for autocratic neighbors. The authors develop a rational-choice model linking policies aimed at promoting autocracy to domestic interests in political stability, and these theoretical insights to Russian and Chinese policies in their neighborhoods.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Jackson, Nicole J. “The Role of External Factors in Advancing Non-liberal Democratic Forms of Political Rule: A Case Study of Russia’s Influence on Central Asian Regimes.” Contemporary Politics 16.1 (2010): 101–118.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/13569771003593920Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Contains a concise survey of the literature on the role of external forces in promoting authoritarianism and resistance to democratization. Offers a conceptual framework of the mechanisms of external authoritarian influences used for demonstrating Russia’s contributions to strengthening Central Asian authoritarianisms.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Kavalski, Emilian. “Whom to Follow? Central Asia between the EU and China.” China Report 43.1 (2007): 43–55.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1177/000944550604300103Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Offers a novel conceptual lens of “normative agency” for demonstrating the inevitable normative component of foreign policies of China and the EU, reflecting their distinct experiences and clashing interests.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Kavalski, Emilian. “Shanghaied into Cooperation: Framing China’s Socialization of Central Asia.” Journal of Asian and African Studies 45.2 (2010a): 131–145.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1177/0021909609357415Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          At the conceptual level, attempts to integrate the concept of “international socialization” with the concept of “normative power.” Defends China as a “normative power,” showing how it has rhetorically promoted its values of sovereignty and its peaceful rise to international prominence, and how it has overcome the specters of the past in its foreign policy toward Central Asia.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Kavalski, Emilian, ed. The New Central Asia: The Regional Impact of International Actors. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing, 2010b.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Written in the tradition of critical geopolitics and post-structuralist analyses, the book attempts to reconceptualize Central Asia as a “region” spoken into existence, and it examines the external agency of various international actors that have become involved in packaging the geopolitics of Central Asia. Not an easy read for those unfamiliar with postmodern and post-structuralist arguments.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Omelicheva, Mariya Y. Democracy in Central Asia? Competing Perspectives and Alternative Strategies. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2015.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813160689.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Examines the meanings of democracy and democratization at several levels: international (how EU and US vs. Russia and China portray it), national (how the Central Asian governments represent democracy), and local (how Central Asian people view democracy). Explains why the Russian and Chinese perspectives on democracy have been popular with the Central Asian regimes.

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