Tuesday, November 16, 2010

CALL: The Caucasus and Central Asia, twenty years after independences (ocamagazine.com)

Call For Papers

The Caucasus and Central Asia, twenty years after independences:
Questioning the notion of "South countries"

International conference, Almaty, August 25-27, 2011

Twenty years ago, after the collapse of the USSR, the countries of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan) and the Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia) became independent. The Central Asian republics, created between 1924 and 1936, could then - unexpectedly - enjoy a sovereignty previously unknown to them, whereas in the Caucasian states, the strong national movements that had developed during perestroika were deeply rooted in the past. During the 20th century, these Soviet socialist republics had been integrated into the unified production and trade system set up on the scale of the USSR and the principles of socialist planning. In this framework, they could take advantage of the resources and development policy of the Soviet state. Thus, despite any lacks or shortcomings they might have, the Caucasian and Central Asian republics belonged to the developed world in the bi-polar geopolitical division. The Caucasus and Central Asia served as models, if not showcases, for some Third World countries, all the more so as the USSR provided assistance to developing countries struggling against imperialism.

Since the collapse of the USSR and the East-West division, the North-South opposition seems to have become one of the major reading grids of the international scene. Whereas during the Cold war, geopolitical analyses rested on the ideological and strategic confrontation between capitalist and socialist worlds, the North-South grid, for the most part, pointed to inequalities in development. Appearing in the 1970s, the notion of "South" in fact replaced the term "third world countries" or "developing countries, as opposed to the "North", the developed and industrialised countries. Then came the expression "South countries", referring to the diversity of this heterogeneous ensemble made up of both emerging and least advanced countries. In these new divisions of today's globalised and regionalised world, where do we situate the independent states of Central Asia and the Caucasus?

Research on contemporary trends in Central Asia and the Caucasus contains few attempts at examining the analysis grids elaborated to study the South countries - despite the fact that after the crisis at the turn of the 1990s and the magnitude of its economic, political and social impact, the newly independent Central Asian and Caucasian states were included, by international institutions as well as non-governmental organisations, in the "South countries". As a result, during the 1990s, international assistance destined for the Central Asian republics and, to a lesser extent, the Caucasian republics, tended to slip from "transition" to "development" aid. In this respect, according to some analysts, Central Asia and the Caucasus followed a very original post-soviet trajectory, having entered into the globalised world by means of what could be called "third worldisation". Thus they argue that the border between the "North" and the "South countries", formerly located on the border of the USSR, was from then on situated on the southern border of Russia.

Since it opposes a former metropolis and its former colonies, an approach in terms of "South countries" falls into a post-colonial pattern; as such, it leads us to examine the USSR's imperial dimension and to mobilise the theoretical approaches (theory of dependency, post colonial studies, etc) to which we owe the notion of "South countries".

The current trajectories of Central Asia and the Caucasus also suggest that development issues be examined in the context of globalisation. In particular, these issues require an analysis of the transition paradigm developed during the 1990s by international organisations, aimed at replacing the socialist model with a political system organised on a democratic basis, an economy based on liberal capitalist principles and a Euro-Atlantic geopolitical positioning. Economic and social dynamics have tended to invalidate this teleological notion, which conditioned development and oriented the insertion of Central Asian and Caucasian republics into the mechanisms of globalisation. However, it is essential to question transition policies in order to evaluate the slippage towards the "South" which has taken place since their independence.

The present period can be likened to a moment of diversification and individualisation of societies, economies and territories, on the basis of the Newly Independent States. In this respect, an examination of contemporary transformations in all their complexity not only means keeping a close watch on the diversity of political, economic and social actors, but also trying to identify the fault lines which tend to segment Central Asian and Caucasian territories and societies.

The aim of the conference "The Caucasus and Central Asia, twenty years after independences: an examination of the notion of 'South Countries'" - is to question the relevance of heuristic tools based on territories situated in the "South" but also, the very notion itself of "South countries", so as to gain insight into the southern peripheries of post-soviet space. Its purpose is to bring together researchers in all social science disciplines (sociology, history, political science, geography, anthropology, demography and economics). This diversity should favour a confrontation of approaches and further insight into the complexity of the itineraries followed by the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus in the past twenty years.


The formation of states: post-colonial problems?

- The formation of Republican territories: the history of borders, border policy and implementation, autonomous territories, political structuring of space;
- The structuring of political domains: creation of regional and local Republican state apparatuses at the time of incorporation into the Soviet Union; the ethnicising and confessionalising of political issues;
- The transformation of Soviet and post-Soviet elites, the emergence of new actors and new political resources (NGOs, etc.).

Inequality and poverty: societies thrust into third world status?

- Pauperisation and social differentiations; social and spatial segregation-aggregation; city-rural inequalities;
- Work migrations: socio-economic and political causes for mobility (poverty, conflicts, etc); implementation of public policies; life itineraries and strategies of migrants; social, demographic and economic consequences of migration in the country of origin and the host country;
- Questions on the definition of South countries from the point of view of demographic transition (fertility, mortality, life expectancy).

International geopolitical insertion: are the South countries being dominated?

- Global and regional power plays, in particular Russia, the former metropolis;
- The positioning of international organisations;
- The role of cross border enterprises;
- The international ambitions of certain Central Asian and Caucasian states;
- Regional alliances.

Economic globalisation: are the South countries being exploited?

- Re-orientation of economic and commercial exchanges;
- Government action in the economic sector and the role of national and international entrepreneurs: the appropriation and exploitation of Central Asian and Caucasian resources;
- Fashioning of a resource based economy and link with development;
- The informal sector and "globalisation from the bottom up".


The conference "The Caucasus and Central Asia, twenty years after independences: questioning the notion of 'South Countries'" will be held in Almaty on August 25th, 26th, and 27th, 2011.

Proposals for communications should be sent before January 15th, 2011 at the following address: colloque.sudsov@gmail.com. They may be written in French, English, or Russian. Please, send an abstract (about 2000 signs), and a short CV. Answers will be sent by the organisation committee before February 28th 2011.

Working languages will be English and Russian.

Organising Institutions:

Centre d'étude des mondes russe, caucasien et centre-européen (CERCEC)

(Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)
Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris
Institute for oriental studies, National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Almaty) ANR (French National Research Agency)
Program "Sudsov", Paris
IFEAC (French Institute for Central Asian Studies), Tashkent
Centre franco-russe de recherche en sciences humaines et sociales, Moscow.

Organisation committee:

Sophie Hohman, CNRS-CERCEC/ INED (National Institute for Demographic Studies), Paris,
Anne Le Huérou, CNRS-CERCEC, Paris,
Isabelle Ohayon, CNRS-CERCEC, Paris,
Amandine Regamey, Paris I University/CERCEC, Paris,
Nazigul Shajmardanova, Institute for Oriental Studies, Almaty,
Silvia Serrano, Université d'Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand, CERCEC, Paris,
Julien Thorez, CNRS- Center "Mondes iranien et indien", Paris.

International scientific committee:

Sergey Abashin, Institute of ethnology and anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow,
Alexandre Iskanderyan, Caucasus Institute, Erevan,
Mohamed-Reza Djalili, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva,
Sanat Kushkumbaev, Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies, Almaty,
Vladimir Mukomel, Institute of Sociology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Claire Mouradian, CNRS-CERCEC, Paris,
Ghia Nodia, Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development/Ilya University, Tbilissi,
Saodat Olimova, Sharq Center, Duchanbe,
Jean Radvanyi, Centre franco-russe de recherche en sciences humaines et sociales, Moscow.

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