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Authoritarianism and imperial paradigms: knowledge production, epistemic injustice, and ontologies in Central Asian educational institutions 
Asel Doolotkeldıeva (Nonresidential Fellow, George Washington University)
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Yaşar Sarı (Ibn Haldun University)
Yaşar Sarı (Ibn Haldun University)
308 (Floor 3)
Thursday 6 June, -
Time zone: Asia/Almaty


This round-table discussion seeks to raise timely issues about academia in Central Asia, its relating to the global political economy of knowledge production and domestic authoritarianism, while being sandwiched between imperial knowledge traditions, Western on the one hand, and Soviet/Russian on the other hand. A range of theoretical, empirical and practical propositions animate this discussion:

1) How do researchers feel in the post-Soviet academia? How do they navigate between the rigid guidelines of the ministry of science and local universities concerning curricula and research activities, the political framework and academic freedom?

2) Epistemic Injustices in Internationalising Humanities and Social Sciences: A Case Study of Higher Education and Science Institutes in Kazakhstan. This case study will examine how policies for internationalisation of research (IoR) outputs shape epistemically just and unjust practices in humanities and social sciences (HSS) in different types of higher education and science institutes (HESIs) in Kazakhstan. It will provide in-depth analysis of the personal interpretations of the impact of the IoR policies on academics, administrators, policymakers, and academic journal editors, hence, covering the macro-national, meso-institutional and micro-personal levels.

3) The“new Area Studies” debate seem to promise a way out of entrenched disciplinary Eurocentrisms, positing

AS as lead discipline for an epistemically just rethinking of the social sciences. But this overlooks the fact that there is a potent intersection of global and local political economies of knowledge production that perpetuate familiar hierarchies

and distinctions within AS adjacent to political science and IR, particularly for local researchers “outside the core West.” However, epistemic hierarchies are not the only factor impeding the production of knowledge—and theorizing

from that knowledge—that is truly contextualized and localized, not simply reproducing a Western gaze on the “non-West” ( Kamal 2020 ). The case of Central Asia shows how the development of autochthonous critical scholarship can be impeded

by a complex interaction between Western-centric global epistemic structures and local constraints.

4) Does decolonization simply mean increasing the role of scholars from the region in global knowledge production? Or are there more fundamental layers of decolonization that need to be engaged? Against the challenge that local scholarship is often dismissed as "descriptive", we want to brainstorm ways that scholarship on Central Asia by those embedded in Central Asian contexts can challenge ontological and epistemological assumptions of global and Western scholarship.

Accepted contributions:

Session 1 Thursday 6 June, 2024, -