CESMI was first conceived in 2010, motivated by a sense that scholars could have engaged much more helpfully with the media in reporting on the violence that gripped southern Kyrgyzstan in that turbulent year. Discussions at the 2010 Central Eurasian Studies Society conference revealed that these concerns were widely shared with scholars working across the region. While the initiative was kick-started by a mainly anglophone group of journalists and scholars, this initiative is committed to drawing participants working from Central Eurasian bases in Russian and other languages.
Although there are challenges in the structural constraints that these different constituencies face, this initiative is an opportunity both to discuss these constraints and attempt to overcome them. Scholars are rarely trained to create simple statements from complex information or to offer an easily digestible analysis for lay audiences. This can be frustrating for journalists seeking an expert statement. Some scholars are concerned about their message being misrepresented to a wider public. Further, scholars’ involvement in the media is rarely recognized positively, it may even be perceived as a risk to their professional identity as a serious scholar. For Central Eurasian scholars and journalists, there are serious threats resulting from the lack of freedom of information and opinion. Nevertheless, many journalists and scholars feel strongly that their knowledge could be put to better use and find a wider audience.
CESMI is working to create positive solutions to some of these frustrations, such as a ‘Dummies Guide’ for working with scholars and journalists. The strategy of creating events that bring journalists and scholars together to establish long-term collaborative and trusting relationships has already met with great success: a media roundtable at the 2011 Conference of the European Society of Central Asia Studies resulted in our current multi-lingual scholars blog with BBC Central Asia. In 2012, CESMI became a formal association registered in Switzerland. We have designed an online experts directory and are working to create further opportunities for scholars and journalists to collaborate. CESMI is committed to striving for real impacts in public awareness and policy-making, thus contributing to a peaceful future for Central Asia.
Mike Ames (University of Birmingham, UK)
Jeanne Féaux de La Croix (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Germany)
Gulnara Ibraeva (American University of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan)
Sabina Insebayeva (University of Tsukuba, Japan)
Maral Madieva-Martin (Co-President) (Consultant on political and military affairs in Central Asia, France)
Till Mostowlansky (National University of Singapore)
Jesko Schmoller (European University St. Petersburg / Centre for Comparative History and Political Studies, Russia)
Annika Schmeding (Co-President) (Boston University, USA)
Nariman Shelekpayev (University of Montreal, Canada)
Bernd Steimann (HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation, Switzerland)
Abdujalil Abdurasulov (BBC News)
Michael Andersen (Mulberry Media)
Dr. Beate Eschment (Zentralasien Analysen, Germany)
Professor Eric Freedman (Michigan State University, US)
Dr. Madeleine Reeves (University of Manchester, UK)
Bettina Ruigies (Deutsche Welle Academy, Germany)
Bruce Pannier (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
Chris Schwartz (Cyberchaikhana/University Leuven, Belgium)