Soviet Frunze – a Centre of Space Research?

by Mohira Suyarkulova
When one strolls along the streets of Bishkek, the capital of the Kyrgyz Republic, it never registers that this city was once a centre for space research. A modest building on Toktogul Street, which is now home to textile sweatshops, once housed a unique institution with a long cryptic abbreviated name – OKB IKI AN SSSR (Особое конструкторское бюро Института космических исследований Академии наук СССР), which when translated from Russian stands for “Special design bureau of the Institute of space research of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR”. Continue reading

A history of creation and destruction: To rebuild or not to rebuild Bamiyan’s Buddha statues?

bandeamir-2-1by Melissa Kerr Chiovenda

In Bamiyan, Afghanistan, locals’ discussions on Hazara history and recent oppressions faced by Hazaras would often incorporate the meanings that two Buddha statues, built in the 6th and 7th centuries and destroyed on March 10 2001 by the Taliban, held for Hazaras. During my stays in Bamiyan between 2011 and 2013, some individuals recalled myths that explained the statues as symbolising the foundational ancestors of Hazaras, while others considered them to be nothing more than un-Islamic idols. Against the background of these myths, many locals pondered whether the destruction of the statues by the Taliban epitomised the suffering of Hazaras that reaches far into history. Continue reading

The Waiting Game of Kazakhstan’s Nation-Building

by Diana T. Kudaibergenova

DKSince the mid 2000s, amongst political and non-political circles, the question of when Kazakhstan would become a real nation had turned into a fixation point. Numerous state programs and development strategies seemed to raise more questions rather than give answers to the growing demands of Kazakh national-patriots. During this time, unofficial and official media outlets presented programs in the Russian language, initiating debates surrounding ‘concrete’ nation-building projects. The multiplicity of national discourse, symbols and opinions within Kazakhstan had intentionally been facilitated by the regime. For various nationalist and semi civic signifiers, the completed project of the ‘national idea’ became a strategically ambiguous field as well as a waiting game for the elites. The past Soviet tradition of a concrete nationalist policy and definitive nation-building through a state language had a decade later, transformed into a growing demand amongst national patriots and their sympathizers. Continue reading

How Central Asian Migrants Experience Politics in Turkey and Russia: A Comparison

by Jeanne Féaux de La Croix

JeanneWebPicHow might moving abroad for work influence your political ideas and ideals? How might migrating from Central Asia to Turkey or Russia in particular, change a person’s ideas about political leadership, nationalism or religion? This January, a group of distinguished scholars, activists and migrants met in Istanbul to find answers. Russia and Turkey are popular destinations for citizens of the ex-Soviet Central Asian republics; as elsewhere, migration figures are hotly debated. It is clear however that several million Central Asians temporarily or permanently settle in Russia, while Turkey is sought out by a few hundred thousand. Tajikistan holds the sad record of being among the top three nations most dependent on remittances. Continue reading

High Politics and Low Politics in Central AsiaHigh Politics and Low Politics in Central Asia

by Edward Schatz

schatzThe British historian Lord Acton once claimed that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” and it is easy to find examples—historical and contemporary—that confirm our worst fears about politics and politicians. If it is a nasty game with sky-high stakes, then it logically follows that the most effective politician is one who flies high and plays nasty.by Edward Schatz

schatzThe British historian Lord Acton once claimed that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” and it is easy to find examples—historical and contemporary—that confirm our worst fears about politics and politicians. If it is a nasty game with sky-high stakes, then it logically follows that the most effective politician is one who flies high and plays nasty. Continue reading