Central Asia continues to attract the attention of researchers and policy-makers in the areas of security, peacebuilding/conflict prevention and political change. This, and especially the discourse on the region since the involvement of Central Asian migrants in terrorist attacks in different Western metropoles, has put into sharp relief the general public's and expert communities' disregard for the living conditions and ongoing challenges faced by Central Asian societies. These include, but are not limited to, the region's uneven and incomplete processes of economic, political and social change and related resource, territorial and identitarian conflicts. Some recent studies have critically analyzed Central Asian states' policies of countering and preventing violent extremism and terrorism, both with a view to their discursive and practical dimensions of securitization and as part of wider trajectories of political (re-) ordering. Meanwhile, historical studies of Central Asian societies have continuously grown in number but maintained a focus on their idiosyncratic epochs, areas and actors, thus presenting a great potential for an interdisciplinary dialogue on historical and current forms of ordering and securitization. This panel seeks to further unlock this potential and to facilitate a better understanding of the continuities, parallels, path dependencies and possible future scenarios of the development of sustainable peace and security in Central Asia in light of its imperial legacies. Applying various analytical and disciplinary frameworks as well as empirical lenses, participants will make important contributions to the inquiry into historical forms of securitization and their present ramifications.
The panel presents a sub-set of papers from a larger special issue publication project. Two papers focus on the securitization of Islam, which is traced from Soviet times to the present and in terms of its shift from a focus on Wahabbism to Salafism; and, furthermore, in terms of the perceptions that ordinary people have about religion, religious freedom and its implications for social cohesion and stability. The other two papers look at the evolving nature of state-society relations, both in a historical perspective through an oral history of people's perceptions of the state, society and their place in it in times of perestroika, and, secondly, in regard to recent trends of inclusive and participatory decision-making processes in otherwise authoritarian political regimes. This way, the politics of order-making and security/securitization are probed as to their imperial and post-imperial logics and content, and both in their subjective, micro-level and public discourse and policy dimensions.