Cambridge Journal of Eurasian Studies is an interdisciplinary journal exploring the social, economic, political and cultural processes evolving in Eurasia.About the Journal
The article looks at the processes, metaphors and politics of the “Silk Road” as an ideological concept and the ways in which “authenticity” is actively constructed, implemented and performed as a strategy for development by government, non-governmental agencies and business owners. Case studies from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan are touched upon and material from interviews, observations and examples from material culture presented. This project seeks to analyse: the culture of the textiles business in Central Asia and how this operates at the seams of national-ethnic identity within the Eurasian context; the formal and informal business practices of the everyday, operating within the discourses of economic development; and how consumer culture may be interrogated as a means for performing identity at the local and global perspectives. Contemporary intersectional approaches to understanding the business of textiles and fashion in Central Asia should redress the marginalisation of academic efforts across multiple disciplines to unite the region inwardly and outwardly and call for an integrated approach to considering both the cultural and economic value of handmade textiles, which acknowledges and makes visible the role of the artisan, the designer, the entrepreneur, the retailer and all the stages that exist in the value chain between production the final consumer. The precursors to the current framework of research necessarily lie in the work of scholars of development and industrialisation established during the Soviet period. Their expertise must be called upon to enrich the perspective presented here, which is focused on contemporary craftsmanship and enterprise in Central Asia and how current practices in design and business may offer fruitful opportunities for development of the New Silk Road project, both intellectually and economically.
This study examines ethno-cultural associations—public institutions representing interests of minority groups—and discusses their role in the development of civil society in ethnically rich Kazakhstan. Minority associations developed in Soviet times inherited Soviet-era property and certain charitable and social practices. The Soviet footprint translates into hierarchy and state subordination. Based on interviews with representatives of associations and their visitors in Almaty, the study focuses on their quotidian activities and attempts to explain why these associations are providers of various resources for civil society development. The findings show evidence of the state being a part of the institutional synergy in the civil sphere. As part of the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan and being “government-organised NGOs,” ethno-cultural associations add their voice on “togetherness” and “unification” of diverse nationalities and to the official rhetoric of the new patriotic act. Despite transparent loyalty to the authorities and lacking a formal political agenda, cultural and social activities of these associations remain relatively autonomous. The study concludes that their real non-decorative functions deal with creating unionism, providing opportunities for social capital development, and fostering an understanding and appreciation of ethnic diversity. These associations have a potential to bridge the gap between communities while providing platforms for civic exchanges and being intermediaries between the public, the state and their kin states.
There is considerable debate over how and in what form Central Asian (CA) states should conduct relations among each other and with other post-Soviet states. The notion of the “Silk Road” has become one of the symbols of extended economic and political cooperation. Notably, however, Japan (Silk Road Diplomacy, 1996–1999), China (One Belt, One Road [OBOR] or the Belt and Road initiative [BRI]) and South Korea (Silk Road Strategy, 2011) have used the rhetoric of reviving the Silk Road to imply closer engagement with the CA region but with different connotations. This paper focuses on the formation of this discourse of engagement with the CA region through the notion of the Silk Road in China, South Korea and Japan and raises the following questions: What are the approaches that facilitate the most effective ways of engaging CA states under this “Silk Road” rhetoric? What are the principles that have detrimental effects on the successes and failures of the engagement of China, Japan and South Korea? The primary objective of this paper is to address these questions and to stimulate debate among both academics and policy makers on the formats of engagement and cooperation in Eurasia.
The term energy security is undergoing a sea change from a state-centric economic conception to a sociological one. The definitional aspect is undergoing a transformation because of the changing pattern of relations between “energy producing and consuming states” along with “transit states”. Eurasia is one such region where the broader definition of energy security can be applicable. The existence of historically rooted social conflicts like Chechnya, South Ossetia, Crimea, “simmering discontent” in Siberia and Far East, and primordial apprehensions between ethnic groups (Armenian and Azeri) in Nagorno Karabakh are providing a structural basis for the accentuation of regional conflicts. Most of these conflicts are taking place in Eurasia due to existence of natural resources like energy. Often competition over controlling transportation corridor is also generating societal tension. Some of these trajectories are putting this geopolitical space into a “cauldron.” Against this backdrop, Constructivism is emerging as a major theoretical approach to study the securitization processes in Eurasia.
This article takes a long historical perspective on the Silk Road, attempting to see it from a Chinese point of view. It focuses on five themes that figure in the Chinese imagination of the Silk Road, all rooted in China’s history. These include influences that came to China via the Silk Road in prehistoric and early historic times, patterns of military expansion of Chinese power in the Western regions, the threat of invasion from the northern and north-western frontiers, commercial exchanges and individual travel. Individuals journeyed across the Silk Road for diplomatic, military, commercial and sometimes religious reasons and the various themes overlap to some extent. Some myths are also dispelled: first, the Silk Road was not one route but many; second, other commodities besides silk travelled along it and third, the maritime Silk Road should also be included in the concept. Under Mongol rule, the route was at times an unbroken corridor between East and West on which many people travelled in both directions. When the Mongol empire broke up, travel overland was restricted again, which may have been why China took to the seas in the Ming. At present, China is building a New Silk Road to connect with the rest of the world in a more integrated way than ever before. The focus of this article is on establishing the patterns of the past in the hopes that it will contribute to the discussion of whether these patterns will be repeated in the present or if we are in completely uncharted territory.
This article argues that the Security Dilemma can in fact be abolished by integrating the militaries into one common global organisation, possibly under one common command. The existence and workings of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are an approximate example of this ideal in a geographically limited space. For illustrating this argument, this article discusses the logic of the Prisoners Dilemma, as the intellectual model underlying the Security Dilemma, and proposes an alternative version of the Prisoners Dilemma. It is then argued that the Security Dilemma only persists in a politically and economically ever farther integrated world because the international militaries are not integrated and hence partial anarchy persists at least in the military realm. The solution to remaining international conflicts, such as arguably one between NATO and Russia recently, would be to expand NATO to include “threatening” states’ militaries until all militaries are joined in a global organisation, a truly global NATO. Finally, revised non-violent functions for NATO, as well as a global welfare state and an early warning system for civil wars, are proposed and discussed.
Cambridge Journal of Eurasian Studies E-ISSN: 2514-4634