Anceschi Luca, University of Glasgow, UK

“The Geo-Strategic Implications of the TAPI Pipeline Project”
(May-June 2015)

Biography:
Luca Anceschi is Lecturer in Central Asian Studies at the University of Glasgow. A graduate of the University of Napoli L’Orientale and of La Trobe University (Melbourne, Australia), his research has been mostly concerned with the Politics and International Relations of post-Soviet Central Asia. His first book, Turkmenistan’s foreign policy – Positive Neutrality and the Consolidation of the Turkmen regime (Routledge 2008), represented the first book-length account of Turkmenistani foreign policy published in Western languages. His articles have appeared on Central Asian Survey, Europe-Asia Studies, Nationalities Papers,and the Journal of Arabian Studies. He is currently completing a monograph entitled Kazakhstan’s foreign policy – Regime neo-Eurasianism in the Nazarbaev era (forthcoming with Routledge).

Abstract:
In early October 2014, Gazprom announced its decision to suspend purchases of natural gas from Central Asian providers, opting not to engage in any future negotiation to renew existing contracts with key regional exporters, including Uzbekistan and, most notably, Turkmenistan. While capturing on the one hand the impact that recently imposed economic sanctions are exerting on the Russian economy, this announcement raises on the other a number of critical questions on the long-term energy strategy of post-Soviet Turkmenistan – Central Asia’s largest exporter of natural gas. As Gazprom announced its eventual withdrawal from the Central Asian gas market, and with the Turkmenistani-Iranian energy relationship entering a phase of decline, gas trade with China now remains the only long-term option for the commercialisation of Turkmenistan’s natural gas. This scenario, given the one-dimensional nature of the Turkmenistani economy, is likely to raise a few eyebrows in Ashgabat, where successive regimes have pursued – with different emphases at different junctures – a fairly consistent strategy of diversification for Turkmenistan’s gas linkages.

Within this strategy, a relatively significant, if at times rhetorical, role has been played by the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline – an ambitiously designed infrastructure project that aims to connect Turkmenistan’s eastern gas fields (and the giant Galkynysh field more in particular) with the economies located on the Indian sub-continent. In early July 2014, the conclusion of a major operational agreement involving the four state-partners removed the final obstacles to the full implementation of the TAPI framework. The entry into line of the TAPI gas pipeline – currently scheduled for late 2017 – will inevitably reshape Turkmenistan’s energy outlook and, more widely, is expected to revolutionise the geopolitics of Eurasian natural gas. It is precisely to these closely interconnected processes that this study devotes its core attention.

The study aims to: Contextualise recent developments in the operationalisation of the TAPI pipeline project; Investigate the specific strategies through which Turkmenistan’s energy policy reacted to the progress of the TAPI framework; and Relate TAPI’s operationalisation prospects to the gas strategies devised by key Eurasian exporters (Russia, Iran) and importers (China).

Email: Luca.Anceschi [at] glasgow.ac.uk

Burkhanov Aziz, Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan

“Media and Nationalism:  National Identity and Language Discourse in the Media Outlets of Kazakhstan”
(June 2015)

Biography:
Aziz Burkhanov is an Assistant Professor at Nazarbayev University (Astana, Kazakhstan). Dr. Burkhanov received his PhD at Indiana University (Department of Central Eurasian Studies) in 2013 and his dissertation research dealt with national identity policies of post-Soviet Kazakhstan and the public discourse on identity and language issues in Kazakhstan’s Kazakh- and Russian-language newspapers. He completed his B.A. in History at Al-Farabi National University in Almaty, Kazakhstan, followed by an M.A. in Political Science at the University of Paris-II Panthéon-Assas. His areas of interest include national identity and language policies, theories of nationalism, and current political developments and governance in Central Asia.

Abstract:
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan, like many other post-Soviet states, had experimented with a search for a new sense of national identity. Despite calls and temptations for more revengeful and nationalistic policies, the country’s leadership depicts Kazakhstan as a model of a peaceful coexistence of multiple ethnic groups and at several occasions mentioned a need to form a ‘Kazakhstani nation’, based on the civic supranational identity. This study illustrates how the Kazakhstani supranational identity project is reflected in the Kazakh- and Russian-language media outlets and how do the media shape and channel societal reaction to the government’s nation-building efforts. By analyzing media coverage of national identity policies and interethnic relations, this paper suggests that there are different attitudes towards ‘Kazakhstani nation’ highlighting the civic-nationhood regardless of ethnic background and a ‘Kazakhstani’ identity understood as a supranational identity on top of ethnic identifications; thus, a community of all ethnic groups living in the country. If the former was met with resistance because of the anxieties about cultural loss and potential disappearance of Kazakhs as a result of mixing with other ethnic groups, the latter seems to enjoy a larger degree of acceptance as a marker of civic identity, at least in the Russian-speaking domestic political discourse.

Email: aziz.burkhanov [at] nu.edu.kz

Salaev, Nodirbek, Tashkent State Law University, Uzbekistan

“Crime prevention: Issues of reforming the penitentiary system of Uzbekistan (based on the experience of prison policy of Finland)”
(June 2015)

Biography:
Salaev Nodirbek Saparbaevich is an Acting Associate Professor of the Department of "Criminal Law and Criminology" Tashkent State Law University. In 2012, he defended his PhD thesis on "Violation of regulations of relations among military servicemen who are not directly subordinate to one another". 

During bachelor’s studies his thoughts came to be occupied with the problems of criminal law and criminology. As a result of these interests, he began to study the history of criminal punishment in Uzbekistan and internationally. In 2005, together with his mentor, he co-authored a monograph “Death penalty: in the past, today and in the future”. After graduating with honors, he worked as a law teacher in the middle school, and later as an assistant of public attorney. During his work, he witnessed the fact that in practice, the punishment of imprisonment applied by the courts often is not effective. For this reason, to deepen his knowledge in this area he went to study for master's and PhD degrees in the direction of Criminal Law and Criminology; criminal law enforcement. Nodirbek has written more than 10 scientific articles and 4 monographs on various problems of criminal law and criminology. It has been six years since he continued his career as a lecturer of Criminal Law and Criminology at the Tashkent State University of Law. Currently, he is engaged in the study and research named “Actual issues of reforming the penitentiary system for crime prevention in modern Uzbekistan”.

 

Abstract:
The study examines current problems of prison reform in Uzbekistan through a comparative analysis of theoretical and conceptual questions in Finnish and Uzbek prison legislations, as well as problems in the actual practices of implementation. The rationale for the study is to seek solutions to improving the Uzbek penitentiary and crime-prevention system. This system is faced with a high percentage of prisoners returning to prison after having served a prior sentence and with difficulties in achieving the desired objectives of criminal punishment. The Finnish case is used in order to acquire new criminological knowledge on combatting crime and on crime prevention, inside and outside of the prison environment. This study conducts an analysis of major innovations in the penitentiary and prison policies of the state, and of the system of institutions and specialized bodies enforcing criminal penalties. These issues are being examined on the levels of legislation and law enforcement. Library and archival sources are used for studying the history of formation and foundation of criminal and criminal-executive law in Finland. 

Email: nodir-law [at] mail.ru

Slavomír Horák, Department of Russian and Eastern European Studies, Institute of International Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic

"Ideology and Regime-Building in Turkmenistan. The Writers, Players and Customers"
(May 2014)

Biography:
Slavomír Horák has a tenure track position as the Research Fellow at the Department of Russian and East European Studies of the Institute of International Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague. He holds a PhD in International Area Studies from the same institute. Horák’s research covers political, social, and economic issues in the former USSR, with a focus on Central Asia, particularly on Turkmenistan's domestic issues, such as informal politics, as well as state- and nation-building. Horák is an author of several books on Central Asian and Afghanistan internal developments. He has also published numerous articles in Czech, Russian and English scholarly journals including Problems of Post-Communism, The China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly, Central Asia and the Caucasus and Politeks.

Abstract:
The creation and building of new regimes in Central Asia after the collapse of the Soviet Union were accompanied by many significant changes in the political, social or economic spheres. New elites and, in particular, new presidents gradually transformed themselves from regional Soviet communist party bosses into enthusiastic promoters of nationalism. This phenomenon manifested itself publicly in the creation of a new system of values whose aim was to compensate and substitute for the ideological vacuum that emerged after the collapse of communism.

The penetration of the new national ideologies into the everyday life of the Central Asian peoples through mass media or education, together with the lack of pluralism and access to alternative viewpoints, has gradually formed the way of thinking in these societies. Thus, ideology, along with the country’s political culture, political or party system, and economy or social system, has become the key instrument of regime-building.

Central Asian ideologies are (at first glance) not connected to international politics and seem only to serve the internal purposes of the regimes. However, the existing outcomes of the project have shown that both the internal and foreign policies of the respective countries are often based on the ideology which determines the regime’s character.

The current project aims to analyse the correlation between elite formation (with the central figure of the president) and their image-making in case of post-Soviet Turkmenistan. The research starts with an analysis of the local elites and their transformation into de facto super-personal regimes, i.e. finding out the reasons for such concentration of power in the hands of one single person. The first part of the research focuses on the factual rise of president Niyazov of Turkmenistan, the creation of his entourage, the mechanisms of cadre changes, and the crystallization of his innermost circle, which was (as I assume) crucial for creation of his image. In the second part, the ‘achievements’ of the process of ideology creation in Turkmenistan are analysed, and in the third part I focus on the customers of the ideology.

Considering the complex character of the project and its focus on Turkmenistan as the least -researched country in the region, the project is unique in the worldwide context.

Email: slavomir.horak@post.cz

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Hanna Smith and Suvi Kansikas

Natalie Koch, Department of Geography, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, USA

"Synecdoche and the subject: Spectacular power and state-making in Central Asia"
(May 2014)

Biography:
Natalie Koch is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography, at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She received her PhD in Geography in 2012 from the University of Colorado, Boulder, upon completion of her doctoral dissertation, The city and the steppe: Territory, technologies of government and Kazakhstan’s new capital. Koch has published a number of peer-reviewed articles in journals including Eurasian Geography and Economics, Political Geography, Urban Geography and Environment and Planning A. Although Koch primarily positions herself as a political geographer, as well as a ‘Central Asianist,’ her work has always been highly interdisciplinary, with a focus on state-making, nationalism, geopolitics, spectacle, and authoritarianism.

Abstract:
In the study of highly-centralized political systems, geographers have long attended to the many manifestations of spectacle through performances and built landscapes. These studies are overwhelmingly about one case alone, and rarely situate this case as part of a broader grammar of ‘sovereign pomp.’ In my current book project, Synecdoche and the subject: Spectacular power and state-making in Central Asia, I propose that to understand the spectacular in such centralized systems, it is necessary to conceptualize it as a generalized trope – more specifically, one that operates on the basis of synecdoche.

Synecdoche – the part standing for the whole and vice versa – is a much-overlooked spatial trope that extends far beyond the realm of rhetoric. To date, there has been no systematic analysis of how it works in the geographic imagination, nor the political effects of its use. My book project takes up this task through a targeted case study of three authoritarian Central Asian states – Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan. Arguing that synecdoche is the necessary mental ‘trick’ that underlies spectacle, I illustrate how this operates within the realm of state-making and subjectivization in the post-Soviet era, as actors in these three countries reconfigure their polities. In this regard, I develop two key arguments through a wide range of examples.

First, I argue that ‘celebratory’ spectacles, which are intensely manifested in these countries’ capital cities, can only be understood together with the ‘punitive’ spectacles of the hinterlands. That is, through the use of synecdoche, the geopolitical gaze of observers (domestic and foreign alike) is strategically directed toward the ‘center.’

Second, I argue that the spectacular projects in post-Soviet Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan reflect the fact that their political systems are predominated by what Michel Foucault has termed ‘sovereign’ modes of ‘governmentality.’ I extend Foucault’s analysis of spectacle as a technology of government to explore subject-making practices within authoritarian polities. I also illustrate how spectacle, operating on the basis of the synecdochic imaginary, is bound up with what I term ‘spectator citizenship’ – a set of subjectification practices particular to sovereign power relations, in which the governor’ (i.e. the king, ruling regime, etc.) is understood as benevolent and giving, and the ‘governed’ (i.e. citizens, subjects, etc.) passive and thankful.

 

Email: nkoch@maxwell.syr.edu