Diana Kudaibergenova (University of Cambridge)
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- Room 213
- Friday 11 October, 9:00-10:45 (UTC+0)
Author:Sebastien Peyrouse (GWU)
Paper long abstract:
President Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedow - a former dentist - has promoted health as an essential component of Turkmenistani national identity. He has emphasized it over the last three years, while Turkmenistan has been going through its most serious economic and social crisis since independence, largely due to government mismanagement of the economy, Berdymuhamedow's expensive vanity projects, and the fall of world oil prices. Through policies requiring a healthy nation, Berdymuhamedow uses a paternalistic approach in posing as the healer of the nation. Propaganda touting the capital's hospitals as equipped with state-of-the-art equipment is supposed to demonstrate the country's progress and modernity in reaching international standards. At the same time, average citizens are often unable to afford basic healthcare - if the services they need are even available.
This approach raises at least two fundamental questions. First, this paper will show that the concentration of resources on select showcase projects intended to substantiate the official discourse on a healthy nation, combined with an excessive authoritarian management which has consisted, among others, in tampering with medical statistics, such as infant and maternal mortality rates, and in concealing data on infectious and contagious diseases contribute to further weaken the already feeble health system by widening the gap between its real capacities and the needs of the population. As reported by local unofficial sources, this has been feeding Turkmenistanis' resentment, and might impact significantly the development and the social stability of the country.
Second, it will examine the stakes and impact of both public and private international engagement with authoritarian regimes like Turkmenistan, an issue widely debated among theorists of foreign assistance. By focusing on supplying modern equipment, as solicited by the local government, foreign actors risk actually weakening the health system by diverting attention from the real needs of the local population, legitimizing the official discourse on nation building, and thus becoming complicit in the construction of a Potemkin state in today's very fragile Turkmenistan.
Author:Mohsen Jalali (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
Paper long abstract:
Political science scholarship on Afghanistan has focused on the topics of violent conflict and state-building from the viewpoints of the local and international elite. In doing so, it makes several assumptions regarding how people in Afghanistan understand their social and political landscape. Namely, this scholarship mirrors the ethnocentrism of the policymakers in Afghanistan by assuming fixed boundaries for groups and social categories. This ethnocentric view from the top orders politics in the country, which makes policy decisions easier for the international community and is in immediate interests of their local partners. This paper challenges these assumptions by shifting the spotlight to everyday life and focuses on perceptions of the state among ordinary people in their daily interactions. Drawing from 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork in the capital city of Kabul, I aim to understand the ideals of the ordinary people as they describe what they deem to be a legitimate state. This ethnographic approach allows me to unpack the complexities of actors' identities and better understand the ways it affects people's perceptions of the state. I will demonstrate that identities are real but at the same time filled with ambiguities and paradoxes. My fieldwork shows that social identity in Afghanistan does not map neatly onto clear-cut boundaries. Individuals hold multiple, shifting identities. People across different 'identity groups' consider the current state a "mafia." For them, I learned, this term means a pattern of distribution of power and wealth among some elite power-holders who allegedly represent a specific ethnic group. In this rendering of state-as-mafia, the state is illegitimate due to the absence of rigid social identities according to which politics is being ordered in Afghanistan. Thus, contrary to my initial intuition, which was ethnocentric, I find that Afghan civilians reject identity as a legitimate category for political organization. This new angle contributes to the literature by accounting for the view from the bottom up and is complementary to the other narratives of state building in general, and the case of Afghanistan, in particular.
Author:Venera Narinova (Kyrgyz-Turkish Manas University)
Paper long abstract:
Nation branding is getting more important all over the world in the competition and promotion of countries. The subject of nation branding is also becoming more popular in the academic field. In Kyrgyzstan nation branding is a relatively new concept, and there are no investigations before. Kyrgyzstan is not well known in the world for its cultural heritage, investment and economic opportunities. Therefore "Central Asia's island of democracy" - as it is known - needs a strong nation branding campaign.
This study covers the period from 1991 to 2018, and Kyrgyzstan`s attempts to gain a distinct position for itself in the global arena. The data analyzed for this study was collected by corresponding literature, internet resources and interviews with academics and practitioners from public and private organizations in Kyrgyzstan realizing nation branding activities.
Since August 1991, when Kyrgyzstan became independent, it is trying to shape its own image in the world arena. Kyrgyzstan emphasizes its impressive nature, nomadic life style and authentic features within the framework of image building. Kyrgyzstan's main aim is promoting its touristic potential. In general, Kyrgyzstan stands out with its democratic political structure and freedom of speech in Central Asia, which prepares a good potential for the particular nation branding performance. However, Kyrgyzstan should also underline features such as trustworthiness, stability, economical power, high quality and attractiveness of the state in order to construct a better image to pull more foreign direct investment and to sell its products.
This topic is important for academic literature, and it is crucial for Kyrgyzstan's development. This study presents results of an academic study about what should be done in Kyrgyzstan for improving the country image with recommendations on practical applications.
Author:Jasmin Dall'Agnola (OSCE Academy in Bishkek)
Paper short abstract:
Schedule on Oct 11, 12 or 12 i.e. not on Oct 10.
Paper long abstract:
In the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR, the successor states faced two profound tensions: the need to adapt to general rules of Globalization and Westernization and at the same time to preserve and develop their Nation's originality. It is under these circumstances that some former Soviet citizens started to form a stronger belief in their National Identity, whereas others began to engage themselves more with Western patterns and values (Berg 2002; Blum 2008; Danilova 2009; Gudkov 2000, 2017: 280; Hedetoft & Blum 2008; Panov 2010: 92; Ismailzade 2005; Kerimova 2009;Nuruzadeh 2017; Solovyev 2008; Surucu 2002). The results from the quantitative component of the author's PhD project have reaffirmed that globalization seems to have a countervailing influence on post-Soviet citizens' identification with their nation (Baldwin 2016; Bremmer 2018; Castell 2010; Connor 1972; Kriesi et al. 2006; Nodia 2017; Smith 2007). Some form er Soviet people, through contact with the processes of globalization, become more aware of their nation's distinctiveness and, as a result, may develop a stronger belief in their Nation's identity, while others become happier to identify themselves as citizens of the world. In the wake of the breakup of the Soviet Union, the regime under Nursultan Nazarbayev, due to the multi-ethnic composition of its population, adopted a dual approach to nation-building, by simultaneously promoting an exclusive ethnic Kazakh and an inclusive civic Kazakhstani identity (Isaacs 2015, 2018). Nevertheless, there may exist large gaps between how nations are imagined by state's elites and how they are embraced and internalized by its citizens (Barrington et al. 2003; Castells 2011; Kim 2011; Isaacs & Polese 2015, 2016b; Isaacs 2015, 2018). This paper seeks to discuss to what extent citizens in Kazakhstan continue to believe in their government's institutionalized National Narratives in todays' globalized world.