76 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Central Asia about their New Books

New Books in Central Asian Studies New Books Network

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.5 • 10 Ratings

Interviews with Scholars of Central Asia about their New Books

    David Tobin, "Securing China's Northwest Frontier: Identity and Insecurity in Xinjiang" (Cambridge UP, 2020)

    David Tobin, "Securing China's Northwest Frontier: Identity and Insecurity in Xinjiang" (Cambridge UP, 2020)

    Greater interest in what is happening in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang in recent years has generated a proportional need for context, and especially insights into the politics and policies being enacted there and how these interface with local perspectives. For this reason and many others, David Tobin’s Securing China's Northwest Frontier: (Cambridge UP, 2020) is a vital contribution to our understanding of the PRC state-building and narrative-creation efforts which justify projects like the region’s vast network of detention camps. More than this, the book also delves into the lives of ordinary residents of Urumqi, the region’s capital, and how they respond to state efforts to craft a hegemonic vision of Chinese state- and nationhood.
    Moving smoothly from the promotion and performance of discourses of ethnic unity, to discussion of how Xinjiang’s Uyghur population is officially constructed simultaneously as integral to a process of ethnic “fusion” and irreconcilably “Other”, the book draws on textual analysis and fieldwork in the region to reveal a textured picture of a place and populations under immense stress. Urumqi residents of different backgrounds, Tobin shows, have differential abilities to voice alternative views of what identity and security mean, which in turn cut to the very heart of what “China” means and represents for its own citizens and, perhaps, for those beyond its borders too.
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    • 1 hr 2 min
    Aubrey Menard, "Young Mongols: Forging Democracy in the Wild, Wild East" (PRH SEA, 2020)

    Aubrey Menard, "Young Mongols: Forging Democracy in the Wild, Wild East" (PRH SEA, 2020)

    Mongolia is sometimes seen as one of the few examples of a successful youth-led revolution, where a 1990 movement forced the Soviet-appointed Politburo to resign. In Young Mongols: Forging Democracy in the Wild, Wild East (Penguin Random House SEA: 2020), Aubrey Menard profiles many of today’s young activists in Mongolia, in a wide array of different areas like pollution, feminism, LGBT rights, and journalism.
    In this interview, we discuss several of the activists profiled in her book, as well as discuss the development of Mongolia's democracy. We talk about whether we can think about young Mongolians as a "generation", and whether the country's experience supports or challenges normal democratic theory. We also touch base on what's been happening in Mongolia since she published her book.
    Aubrey Menard is an expert on political transitions, elections and democracy, working on democracy and governance issues in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, Central America and the United States. She lived in Mongolia as a Luce Scholar from 2015 to 2016. You can follow her on Twitter at @AubreyMenard.
    You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, where you can find its review of Young Mongols. Follow on Facebook or on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia.
    Nicholas Gordon is a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. In his day job, he’s a researcher and writer for a think tank in economic and sustainable development. He is also a print and broadcast commentator on local and regional politics. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.
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    • 43 min
    Erica Marat, "The Politics of Police Reform: Society against the State in Post-Soviet Countries" (Oxford UP, 2018)

    Erica Marat, "The Politics of Police Reform: Society against the State in Post-Soviet Countries" (Oxford UP, 2018)

    In her book, The Politics of Police Reform: Society against the State in Post-Soviet Countries (Oxford University Press, 2018), Erica Marat provides an answer to a very important question: “What does it take to reform a post-Soviet police force?” Marat looks as specific case studies – in Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan – in order to identify and analyze instances where public mobilization challenged the conduct of police offers and their use of violence. In her analysis, she considers the legacies of Soviet policing, but also identifies important factors that led to policing’s reform. The book is valuable reading for those following contemporary issues in Central Asia and the post-Soviet space, as well those interested broadly in the problems of police violence and the challenge of police reform.
    Nicholas Seay is a PhD Student at The Ohio State University.
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    • 45 min
    Jonathan Lee, "Afghanistan: A History from 1260 to the Present" (Reaktion Books, 2019)

    Jonathan Lee, "Afghanistan: A History from 1260 to the Present" (Reaktion Books, 2019)

    Jonathan Lee’s comprehensive study of Afghanistan’s political history in Afghanistan: A History from 1260 to the Present (Reaktion Books) tells the story of the emergence and sometimes surprising longevity of the Afghan state in the face of serious external and internal challenges over the last three centuries.
    Readers will find a compelling narrative and an important reference for different periods in Afghan history, not to mention a larger thread which looks at the definition (by others) and the introspective self-definition by Afghan rulers as the state developed over time.
    Finally, the book makes use of new insights from memoirs of Afghan officials, British and Indian office archives, and more recently released CIA reports and Wikileaks documents to understand the connections between past and present in contemporary Afghanistan. This book will be useful to diplomats, scholars, students, and anyone else interested in the history of Afghanistan.
    Jonathan L. Lee is a social and cultural historian and a leading authority on the history of Afghanistan.
    Nicholas Seay is a PhD candidate at The Ohio State University.
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    • 1 hr 17 min
    Sean Roberts, "The War on the Uyghurs: China’s Internal Campaign against a Muslim Minority" (Princeton UP, 2020)

    Sean Roberts, "The War on the Uyghurs: China’s Internal Campaign against a Muslim Minority" (Princeton UP, 2020)

    In today’s new episode, we speak with Sean Roberts about his brand new book The War on the Uyghurs: China’s Internal Campaign against a Muslim Minority (Princeton University Press, 2020). Roberts is the Director of the International Development Studies program at George Washington University. He received his PhD in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Southern California and has been studying the Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic minority, for some 30 years, including for his Master’s and PhD thesis research. In this book, Sean Roberts argues that China’s violent campaign against the Uyghur Muslim population is linked to the broader, U.S-led global war on terror, showing that China appropriates the message of the war on terror as justification for persecuting this ethnic minority. Roberts provides a detailed historical account of the current crisis, of China’s settler colonialism in the Uyghur homeland, and of the ways that China relies heavily on the war on terror to imagine Uyghurs as its enemy.
    In today’s discussion, Roberts addresses questions about who the Uyghurs are and what their relationship with China has been like historically; how China’s systematic campaign to erase Uyghur identity and culture is linked to the global U.S.-led war on terror; the idea of self-fulfilling prophecies and how it contextualizes Uyghur responses to China’s violent policies; some suggestions for responding to this human tragedy; and his own experiences meeting and talking with Uyghurs and doing this research.
    The book will appeal to anyone interested in the discourse on the war on terror and terrorism, Islam and Muslims in China, genocide studies, Chinese Studies, history, and generally anyone who wants to understand what’s happening with Uyghurs.
    Shehnaz Haqqani is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Mercer University. Her primary research areas include Islam, gender, and interreligious marriage. She also vlogs on YouTube; her videos focus on dismantling the patriarchy and are available at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClvnmSeZ5t_YSIfGnB-bGNw She can be reached at haqqani_s@mercer.edu.  
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    • 1 hr 8 min
    Iraj Bashiri, "The History of the Civil War in Tajikistan" (Academic Studies Press, 2020)

    Iraj Bashiri, "The History of the Civil War in Tajikistan" (Academic Studies Press, 2020)

    In The History of the Civil War in Tajikistan (Academic Studies Press, 2020) Iraj Bashiri provides an overview of the Civil War in Tajikistan that emerged amidst the collapse of the Soviet Union.
    Based on personal observations, interviews, and a variety of primary and secondary publications, Bashiri places the conflict in a broader historical context, paying careful attention to longstanding tensions that came to the forefront in the early 1990s. These include ideology, regionalism, and, most importantly, disagreements over the role of religion in the functioning of the state.
    This book will be useful for students, scholars, and any others interested in the recent history of Tajikistan and Central Asia.
    Iraj Bashiri is one of the leading scholars in the fields of Central Asian studies and Iranian studies with a focus on Tajik and Iranian identity.
    Nicholas Seay is a PhD candidate at The Ohio State University.
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    • 51 min

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