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Modernization and sovietization by monocultural production in past and present Central Asia 
Henryk Alff (Eberwalde University for Sustainable Development)
Natalia Ryzhova (Palacky University in Olomouc)
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Peter Finke (University of Zurich)
Rune Steenberg (Palacky University in Olomouc)
401 (Floor 4)
Friday 7 June, -
Time zone: Asia/Almaty


Over the past century, the Central Asian republics have seen massive top-down modernization measures in terms of land use patterns. Particularly impactful (and well-studied) in this regard has been the regional concentration of cultivation patterns with strategically important crops like wheat in Northern Kazakhstan (Kraemer et al. 2015) and cotton in the Amudarya and Syrdarya basins (Obertreis 2017). The introduction of other industrial crops (such as soybean or flax) and the side effects of intensification processes in animal production during the Soviet and post-Soviet periods received much less academic attention.

This panel puts lesser-known monocultural production (in the broadest sense) in Soviet and post-Soviet Central Asia into the focus. It asks how these agricultural modernization and sovietization processes have shaped (and continue to affect) agrarian transformation in general and local agricultural systems and farmers’ mindsets, more specifically in Kazakhstan and other parts of Central Asia. Based on the study of past experiences, it also scrutinizes what socio-economic and social-ecological trajectories would/could be worthwhile to follow instead to allow for more sustainable development scenarios in the region to materialize. Bringing together historians, social anthropologists, geographers and other scholars, this panel seeks to forge fruitful interdisciplinary debates on past, present and future agrarian development in Central Asia.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Friday 7 June, 2024, -