Accepted Paper:

Colony, model, colony: Soviet Central Asia and Cold War development  

Author:

Artemy Kalinovsky (University of Amsterdam)

Paper short abstract:

This paper is an attempt to trace the idea of Central Asia as a model for the decolonizing world from its revival in the 1950s, when it became a crucial part of Moscow’s Third World strategy, to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Paper long abstract:

This paper is an attempt to trace the idea of Central Asia as a model for the decolonizing world from its revival in the 1950s, when it became a crucial part of Moscow's Third World strategy, to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. I am particularly interested in ways that the Soviet engagement with the Third World in this period affected Central Asia itself. Focusing primarily on Tajikistan and its relations with Afghanistan and India, I begin by looking at the way the Soviet engagement with the Third World changed the politics of modernization during the Khrushchev era, allowing Central Asian political elites to renegotiate their republics' economic and cultural role within the union. I then trace the idea of Central Asia as a model for developing countries. Briefly considered as an actual program that could be derived from a study of Soviet Central Asia's economic history, it quickly gave way to the use of Central Asia as an exhibition of Soviet achievement. Afghans and other Soviet allies were brought to witness modernity and cultural tradition existing side by side, and Central Asian specialists were sent abroad to provide technical aid and act as travelling exhibits themselves. Meanwhile, however, Soviet development failed to achieve its promise, creating a primarily European industrial elite surrounded by a native population engaged overwhelmingly in agriculture. In the late 1980s, some Tajik economists and other intellectuals began to see Central Asia as itself a colony rather than a model for others.

Panel P082
The changing landscape of the global political economy and foreign aid: has the Cold War ended? (Anthropology of International Governance Network)