Political Ecology of Soviet and Post-Soviet Central Asia
Amanda Wooden (Bucknell University)
Mohira Suyarkulova (American University of Central Asia)
Amanda Wooden
Mohira Suyarkulova
Posvar 3800
Start time:
25 October, 2018 at 14:15
Session slots:


The perspective of political ecology, developed primarily with a focus on the "third world" or post-colonial societies, has far more rarely been called upon to shed light on the internal dynamics of Central Asia's present or recent past. The Soviet Socialist republics, developed within an explicitly anti-colonial, Marxist political context, rejected the exploitative relations of capitalism and justified ambitious interventions in the natural environment as designed to benefit society as a whole. Nonetheless, postwar Soviet Central Asia witnessed some of the most dramatic cases of environmental degradation in the world, and, just as in postcolonial societies, the fallout affected the population unevenly, with marginalised groups often more negatively impacted. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union the independent republics of Central Asia have had to deal with a complex legacy: on the one hand, zones of extreme environmental degradation and specific forms and structures of natural resource exploitation, and on the other hand, a long tradition of nature conservation and protection zones. New trends and forces related to globalization processes as well as dominant global discourses of sustainability and climate change influence the human-environment relations in Central Asia significantly today and lead to reconfigurations of the involved actors and power (im)balances. This panel seeks to understand how unequal relations between stakeholders within and beyond Central Asian society affected - and continue to affect - the natural environment.