In 2018, the ECMI expanded its geographical scope to include focus on the region of Central Asia.
The centre-piece of this was a workshop held at the ECMI HQ in Flensburg which acted as a starting point to understand and explore the areas in which the ECMI could potentially contribute to. As a consequence, the ECMI team have also begun to work on publications relating to the region, with a report and two working papers published in late 2018.
Firstly, the workshop has now been officially summarised into an ECMI Report on Central Asia, co-written by ECMI Senior Research Associate Dr. Sergiusz Bober, ECMI Project Assistant Aziz Berdiqulov and ECMI Research Assistant Craig Willis. Published as #70 in the ECMI’s Report series, the publication is entitled ‘The Region of Central Asia: Introduction. Report on the ECMI Expert Workshop on Central Asia’. It summarises the core aspects of the four countries discussed (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) and provides concluding remarks on what was learned from the workshop and possible areas for future research and action.
Working Paper #105 published in November saw Aziz Berdiqulov team up with former ECMI researcher Dr. Federica Prina to explore ‘Majorities and Minorities in Post-Soviet Space. Continuity and Peace’. After outlining the definitional complexities of the term of majority, the authors link the issues specifically to the Post-Soviet case. In doing so, Russia and Tajikistan are used as case studies to compare two varying empirical situations in Post-Soviet space.
To quote the authors directly, “First, the case of Russia illustrates contentious identification of majority and minority communities, where an alternative vocabulary for definition of ‘minority’ and ‘majority’ emerged along with alternative understanding of related concepts. Second, the case of Tajikistan looks at the interplay of majority-minority concepts and discusses how the Russian community as a former ‘political majority’ adjusts to its new status of non-dominant group, while the Tajik community becomes the single subject of the nation-building policies”.
In a third publication (ECMI Working Paper #108), Aziz Berdiqulov was again involved, this time writing individually for his Working Paper on the ‘Minority Communities in Contemporary Tajikistan. An Overview’. Providing further discussion on the situation in Tajikistan, Mr. Berdiqulov summarises the Kyrgyzs, Pamiris, Russians, and Uzbeks in Tajikistan in an overview which intends to “illustrate how Tajik minority legislation works in practice and what challenges communities usually face”. This also includes discussion on the demographic, linguistic, religious and socio-economic aspects of the four communities outlined above.
These three publications represent tangible evidence of the ECMI’s expanding research in the Central Asia region and add to the knowledge base going forward. This includes attending and presenting at this year’s European Society for Central Asian Studies Conference, to be held in Exeter, UK.