Central Asian Studies

Annual Edward A. Allworth Memorial Lecture

The study of Central Asia at Columbia is closely linked to the teaching and research of Edward A. Allworth (1920-2016), distinguished pioneer in 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. The Institute has established the Annual Edward A. Allworth Memorial Lecture to honor this legacy. 

We are delighted that Erica Marat has accepted our invitation to deliver the Fourth Annual Allworth Memorial Lecture:
China's Military and Security Diplomacy in Central Asia

Lecture by Erica Marat (National Defense University)
Thursday, April 15, 2021, 10:00am ET
Zoom webinar & YouTube Live stream

China has emerged as a global provider of public goods in large part thanks its Belt & Road Initiative. What's less noticed is China's expanding military and security diplomacy that includes supply of smart surveillance technologies, military assistance, and exchanges in professional military education. Focusing on the Central Asian countries, this presentation explores domestic receptivity to Chinese knowledge-based services and regional implications of China's involvement in domains historically occupied by Russia. Intangible goods that require minimal upfront investment can be more easily replicated than public goods, potentially outliving the impact created by one-time infrastructural investments.


Bazaar Politics and Central Asian Development: Perspectives of Traders and Apparel Producers

Lecture by Regine A. Spector (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
Monday, February 10, 2020, 6:15pm
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room (1219 International Affairs Building)

This talk examines everyday people in Central Asia who have engaged in small to medium-sized business opportunities over the past quarter century. Based on interviews, historical research, and survey data, the talk will address question such as: Who are bazaar traders and apparel producers in the region?  What meanings, challenges, and aspirations do they associate with their work? How can a focus on understanding trends in trade and production in the region from the perspective of those engaged in this work help to address challenges related to poverty and inequality?

New Generations in Central Asia: Opportunities and Challenges of Transformation

Lecture by Marlene Laruelle (George Washington University)
Monday, February 11, 2019, 6:15pm
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room (1219 International Affairs Building)

Who are Central Asian youth? What do they think? What do they hope for? Western scholarship tends to focus on the “stagnant” features of the region—political elites, the difficulty of reform, the Soviet legacy—or evokes younger cohorts only through the prism of the risk of radicalization. But Millennials and Gen Z are much more than a bridge from the old Soviets to the prospect of Islamism. They have specific habits and behaviors, cultural heroes, and new professions that are reshaping the societal landscape—and potentially the political one. Combining sociological surveys, focus groups, and content analysis, this presentation draws the portraits of those who will be the next Central Asia.

When First Presidents Die: Understanding Political Change in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan

Lecture by Luca Anceschi (University of Glasgow)
Friday, March 9, 2018, 1:00 PM
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room (1219 International Affairs Building)

The transfer of power is one of Central Asia’s most obscure, and secretly contested, political processes.  The deaths of Saparmurat Niyazov [2006] and Islam Karimov [2016] cemented a series of practices that delineated the contours of a regional praxis for leadership change. But did new leaders endeavour to bring about political change in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan? Did the death of first presidents altered intra-élite dynamics within the two regimes, or influenced the international dealings of these two states? Come and listen to long-term Central Asia-watcher, Luca Anceschi from the University of Glasgow, who will offer an alternative research agenda to make sense of political change in two of Central Asia’s most authoritarian political landscapes.