Nick Megoran explores the process of building independent nation-states in post-Soviet Central Asia through the lens of the boundary between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, using a combination of political, historical, ethnographic, and geographic frames to shed new light on this process.
“State weakness” is seen to be a widespread problem throughout Central Asia and other parts of post-socialist space, and more broadly in areas of the developing world. Challenging the widespread assumption that these “weak states” inevitably slide toward failure, Paradox of Power takes careful stock of the varied experiences of Eurasian states to reveal a wide array of surprising outcomes.
During the 1990s, there was a consensus that Central Asia was witnessing an Islamic revival after independence, and that this would follow similar events throughout the Islamic world in the prior two decades, which had negative effects on both social and political development. Twenty years later, we are still struggling to fully understand the transformation of Islam in a region that’s evolved through a complex and dynamic process, involving diversity in belief and practice, religious authority, and political intervention. This volume sheds light on these crucial questions by bringing together an international group of scholars who offer a fresh perspective on Central Asian states and societies.
Based on a detailed examination of Kyrgyzstan, Johan Engvall goes well beyond the case of this single country to elaborate a broad theory of economic corruption in developing post-Soviet states regionally—as a rational form of investment market for political elites. He reveals how would-be officials invest in offices to obtain access to income streams associated with those offices. Drawing on extensive fieldwork Engvall details how these systems work and the major implications for political and economic development in the region.