Seminar No. 11. Ethnopolitical processes and interethnic relations in Central Asia: history and modern times

On April 21, the Discussion Club of “Caravan of Knowledge” hosted a seminar on “Ethnopolitical processes and interethnic relations in Central Asia: history and modern times”. Ravshan Nazarov presented his report on the subject.  This topic did not leave anyone indifferent and it became obvious that one seminar was not enough to discuss such an interesting and multifaceted topic in full.

The range of questions raised and a thoughts exchange included the following topics:

– there are differences between the terms such as ‘ethnopolitics’ and ‘national politics’, ‘interethnic relations’ and ‘international relations’, etc. and in this area a convention on terms is necessary;

– sometimes there are clashes on how to call a civil identity of people in some countries, where their names derive from the name of the titular nation, but are representatives of a non-title nation. Examples include non-Azerbaijanis in Azerbaijan, non-Ukrainians in Ukraine, non-Georgians in Georgia etc;

– in Uzbekistan or Kazakhstan it is easier: they are called Uzbekistani and Kazakhstanis;

– clashes also occur when certain ethnic minorities are defined as ‘diasporas’ or ‘irridents’, for example, this applies to Osh Uzbeks;

– early last century’s national delimitation process in the region was of an artificial nature. Not only the borders failed to reflect the distribution of ethnic groups, but the ethnic self-identification of people was also expressed ambiguously;

– the phenomenon of the Fergana Valley is an eloquent example of both an interethnic and territorial interspace

– the age of information brings its own corrections into the essence and patterns of national self-identification and nation-building process perspectives.

The discussion also touched upon the problems of genealogy; ethnic passionarity; primordialism; hierarchy of “sub ethnicity-ethnicity-super ethnicity”; anthropological properties of Central Asian ethnicities; dialects; imaginary communities (according to B. Andersen); preservation or obliteration of the tribal identity of Uzbeks (Kipchak, Ming, Sart, Karluk, Mangyt , Naiman, etc.) during the process of civil society development; a typical image and meaning of the “Uzbek” ethnonym; multiculturalism; ethno ecology, etc.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, a famous American political scientist and statesman had predicted the so-called “Balkanization” of the Central Asian region in his “The Great Chess Board” book. However, his forecast did not come true, which indicates that foreign researchers do not always have an adequate understanding of laws of development of people and their inter-relations in Central Asia.