Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




How Central Asia Became Part of the Developing World
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Location Note

1219 International Affairs Building
420 W 118th Street, 12th floor

This event is in-person for CUID card holders only. In-person attendees must be in compliance with Columbia University’s health protocols for returning to campus. Pre-registration, valid CUID card, and valid green pass are required for admittance. All other attendees may participate virtually on Zoom or YouTube.


Please join us for the 5th Annual Edward A. Allworth Memorial Lecture given by Artemy Kalinovsky, Professor of Russian, Soviet, and post-Soviet Studies at Temple University. Moderated by Alexander Cooley (Barnard College).

During the Soviet period, official narratives presented Central Asia as a former colony that had been integrated on equal terms into the USSR while overcoming economic backwardness. This ambiguity was useful for Moscow’s Cold War politics and also shaped how Central Asian actors maneuvered within the Soviet system. In the late Soviet period, this ambiguity was largely abandoned. Some Central Asians began to insist on the region’s colonial status, while economists and sociologists in Moscow argued that Soviet development efforts had failed and that the region was culturally too different to fit into socialist economic schemes.

In this talk, Kalinovsky will trace how different groups within the USSR in the late Soviet period came to reimagine Central Asia as a part of the Third World, discarding the ambiguity of earlier decades. These views also had profound implications for the region’s post-independence transformation: Western development professionals who came to Central Asia after 1991 found the region much more developed than other places they had worked. That also changed over the course of the 1990s, in part because of the continuing influence of Russian scholars, and in part as a result of the development community’s evolving understanding of regional challenges (informed, to a large extent, by local scholars), a change that was solidified with the post 9-11 turn to the Global War on Terror.


Artemy Kalinovsky is Professor of Russian, Soviet, and post-Soviet Studies at Temple University. He earned his BA from the George Washington University and his MA and PhD from the London School of Economics, after which he spent a decade teaching at the University of Amsterdam. His first book was A Long Goodbye: The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Harvard University Press, 2011). His second book, Laboratory of Socialist Development: Cold War Politics and Decolonization in Soviet Tajikistan (Cornell University Press, 2018), won the Davis and Hewett prizes from the Association of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies. He is currently working on a project that studies the legacies of socialist development in contemporary Central Asia to examine entanglements between socialist and capitalist development approaches in the late 20th century.



Edward Allworth headshotEdward A. Allworth Memorial Lecture

The annual Edward A. Allworth Memorial Lecture was established to honor the memory of Professor Allworth (1920-2016), distinguished pioneer in the field of Central Asian Studies. Allworth, an alumnus of the Russian Institute and longtime faculty member at Columbia University, was founding director of both the Program on Soviet Nationality Problems (1970) and the Center for Central Asian Studies (1984). His many publications include eight books, among them his seminal Central Asia: A Century of Russian Rule (1967; third edition published as Central Asia: 130 Years of Russian Rule, 1994), and The Tatars of Crimea: Return to the Homeland (2d ed. 1989). He mentored dozens of accomplished scholars from around the world and introduced the rich culture and history of the region to countless more. The Central Eurasian Studies Society honored Allworth posthumously with its 2016 Lifetime Service to the Field Award. Learn More >


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