Murat Laumulin, D.Sc. (Political Science), Chief Fellow at the Kazakhstan Institute of Strategic Studies (Almaty, Kazakhstan)

Augan Malik, Ph.D. (Hist.), Associate Professor at the Al-Farabi National University of Kazakhstan (Almaty, Kazakhstan)


Throughout the two decades of independent development of the Central Asian states, world political science has formulated its own specific approaches to the region and acquired certain conceptions. Elaborated by the members of different schools and, particularly, of diverse political affiliations, the methods, ideas, and approaches, likewise, differ widely. From the very beginning, everything written about Central Asia abroad was stamped with ideological and geopolitical approaches, which means that all of them were politicized, albeit to different degrees. More likely than not, the roots should be sought in Sovietology: contemporary Central Asian studies (particularly in the West) have inherited too many birthmarks from it.

Classification of Scholarly Writings on Central Asia

How should we classify the varied and numerous scholarly writings on Central Asia? Classification by national schools was most effective at the early stages of contemporary Central Asian studies. In the early 1990s, the British, French, (West) German, and American national schools predominated. Later, Turkey, China, India, Poland, Iran, Pakistan, and others joined in the intensive studies of the political processes in the region and around it. Political literature of Russia and the other CIS countries (including those of Central Asia) is a special phenomenon.

This suggests a different classification method; everything that has been written about Central Asia can be divided into several groups: (1) works dealing with the regional processes, relations, and political developments of individual republics; (2) works dealing with the regions international status, the geopolitical processes around it, and the relations between the Central Asian states, on the one side, and the world and regional players, on the other; (3) works devoted to individual states of the region. There is any number of definitive works dealing with the region as a whole and authored by G.E. Fuller, R. Dannreuther, M.B. Olcott, O. Roy, G. Gleason, F.E. Starr, and others. Collective works, which bring together experts on a wide range of subjects who represent Western and Asian scientific schools and, not infrequently, post-Soviet academic science, are the most popular form of regional studies.

This can be described as globalization in science; in any case, this is a sure sign that the academic traditions are losing their national features, while the academic world in the West is becoming more democratic than before. Political interests and geopolitical engagement, however, are evident in latent or even open form in many works not necessarily written in the.

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