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The Central Asianist Podcast

Top experts and journalists from around the world discuss the politics, economy, and culture of Central Asia. Hosted by Nate Schenkkan.
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The Central Asianist Podcast
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Now displaying: 2017
Jul 25, 2017

In this episode, I speak with Yan Matusevich, a migration researcher with a focus on the post-Soviet space, about how the situation for labor migrants in Russia is changing in light of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

Yan and I discuss a variety of developments now affecting labor migrants in Russia, including the economic crisis of the last several years, the creation of the EAEU and its new labor regulations for member state citizens, the impact of anti-terrorism policing in Russia, and how Russia’s presidential election campaign could affect migrants.
 

Jun 27, 2017

In this episode, I speak with Farruh Yusupov, the director of RFE/RL’s Turkmen service Azatlyk, about the burgeoning economic crisis in Turkmenistan and whether the government will be able to find a way out.


With both Russia and Iran having ended the purchase of Turkmen gas, and oil and gas prices declining yet again, dollars are scarce, wages are going unpaid, and subsidies for utilities have been cut. Even with the media under tight control, there is growing frustration with the government’s lack of response to the crisis. Is President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov able and willing to address the crisis? Or is a harder crash inevitable?

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May 24, 2017

In this episode, I spoke with Bakhtiyor Nishanov, the deputy director for Eurasia of the International Republican Institute (IRI), about whether Uzbekistan is experiencing a thaw since the death of Islam Karimov in August 2016.

Bakhti and I discuss Uzbekistan’s policies under President Shavkat Mirziyoyev: the release of a small number of high-profile political prisoners, relaxations on speech restrictions on social media, and improved relations with neighboring countries in Central Asia, among others. Do these changes constitute a genuine thaw, or are they just attempts by a new leader to shore up legitimacy using different tools than his predecessor? What kind of system is Mirziyoyev interested in creating, and what will it mean for Central Asia?

Special thanks to Eurasianet for its support that has made bringing back the podcast possible.

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Mar 23, 2017

In this episode, I spoke with Dr. John Heathershaw, Associate Professor in the Department of Politics at the University of Exeter about his new book with Alexander A. Cooley, Dictators without Borders: Power and Money in Central Asia, published this month by Yale University Press.

The book challenges the typical situating of post-Communist Central Asia as an isolated hinterland by illustrating the ways in which Central Asian authoritarian regimes use their “connectivity” with global financial and law enforcement mechanisms to stash national assets offshore and punish their opponents abroad. It builds its sophisticated critique of conventional wisdom on detailed and up to date case studies from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan, drawing on the research compiled in the Central Asia Political Exiles database compiled by Exeter Central Asian Studies Network.

Key references:

J.C. Sharman, The Despot’s Guide to Wealth Management: On the International Campaign against Grand Corruption

Stephen Kotkin, Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment

Margaret E. Keck and Kathryn Sikkink, Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics

Special thanks to Eurasianet for its support that has made bringing back the podcast possible.

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Mar 2, 2017

In this episode, I spoke with independent journalists Franco Galdini and Zukhra Iakupbaeva about “The Strange Case of Jaysh al-Mahdi and Mr. ISIS: How Kyrgyzstan’s Elites Manipulate the Threat of Terrorism for Their Own Benefit.” In this paper published by the Central Asia Program at George Washington University, Galdini and Iakupbaeva dissect in great detail a series of unusual alleged terrorist attacks in Kyrgyzstan from 2010 to 2016 that were blamed on the Islamic State and a supposed terrorist group called the Jaysh al-Mahdi.

Their paper situates these supposed terrorist attacks within a larger framework of the history of the management of Islam in Central Asia, state and elite insecurity in Kyrgyzstan, and American and Russian discourses about the war on terror.

Franco Galdini & Zukhra Iakupbaeva, The Strange Case of Jaysh al-Mahdi and Mr. ISIS: How Kyrgyzstan's Elites Manipulate the Threat of Terrorism, CAP Papers 179, October 2016

Sarah Kendzior, Inventing Akromiya: The Role of Uzbek Propagandists in the Andijon Massacre, Demokratizatsiya, September 2006

 

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