Cambridge Journal of Eurasian Studies is an interdisciplinary journal exploring the social, economic, political and cultural processes evolving in Eurasia.About the Journal
In recent years, China has evidently become a significant actor in the Arctic – a region located around the circumpolar north comprising territories of eight states and the Arctic Ocean. In 2013, China’s achievement of observer status at the Arctic Council – the high level inter-governmental forum of these eight circumpolar states – provided the country with legitimacy in its growing engagement with the Arctic region and its actors. A number of interests in the region motivates this engagement, most crucially that the Arctic is a resource rich region full of potential to further boost China’s local economy. The region contains, among other resources, approximately one-fourth of world’s undiscovered oil and gas resources. The increased melting of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean as a result of global warming is gradually opening access to water routes, and the region itself. The Arctic sea routes, in particular the Northern Sea Route (NSR), have already been identified as crucial navigation routes for China to expand its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to the Arctic. The expansion is now widely known as the Silk Road on the Ice or the Polar Silk Road wherein China closely cooperates with Russia and other Arctic states to promote the infrastructural development to operationalise the NSR. China’s investments in a number of projects are making the country an influential actor in the Arctic region. As such, China’s Arctic engagement is at times perceived as an attempt to enhance its ambitions, not only in terms of its economic interests, but also to move a step further towards gaining great power status in world politics. While China firmly commits to respect the sensitive environmental considerations existing in the Arctic and the sovereignty of the Arctic states, it also explicitly highlights its legitimate rights under international law, i.e., freedom of navigation through the Arctic sea routes. In this context, the following article explores the extension of China’s Silk Road Economic Belt to the Arctic vis-á-vis the possible geopolitical dynamics, and whether China’s increasing engagement in the Arctic accelerates its political ambition to expand its great power status.
Regional cooperation and integration are among the most important trends in contemporary international relations. The Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan have joined pre-eminent international organizations and institutions, such as the UN and OSCE. However, there are challenges, similarities and contradictions within the multilateral relationships in Central Asia (such as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Silk Road Economic Belt, Central Asia plus USA (C5+1), the EU strategy, Central Asia plus Japan, Central Asia–Republic of Korea and others). Moreover, there are link between local–regional–global processes in Central Asia. Descriptions and explanations must take into account particular local and regional situations, as well as internal and regional economies, cultures, and politics. Transformations are affected by the competitive international environment. Current and future Central Asian transformation will be prompted by interlinking local, regional, transregional, and global issues and challenges.
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.
Cambridge Journal of Eurasian Studies E-ISSN: 2514-4634