Great Game(s) in Central Asia and Beyond: Exploing International Regional Rivalry Using Cultural and Historical Lenses


Great Game(s) in Central Asia and Beyond: Exploing International Regional Rivalry Using Cultural and Historical Lenses

May 15, 2015

VI Annual International Anthropology Conference

This conference organized by the Anthropology department, American University of Central Asia, in cooperation with the Central Asian Studies Institute and with the financial support of USAID (Kyrgyzstan) is inviting papers and participants to explore the historical and contemporary geopolitics in Central Asia. In the year of 1990, when the USSR was on the brink of collapse, British writer and journalist Peter Hopkirk published his new book The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia. In his interpretation, the historical term Great Game obtained its new meaning and since then has been used extensively to describe the Post-Soviet geopolitical developments and international rivalry for influence in the region. Today, the geographical relevance of the term can be extended beyond Central Asia, to describe wars, local conflicts and human tragedies in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Ukraine, and parts of Asia and Africa.

Such outstanding 19th century scholars and travelers of Central Asia, like Sven Hedin, Aurel Stein, Eugene Schuyler and Nikolai Prjevalski contributed greatly to understanding the original Great Game. Their written legacy remains an important part of area and oriental studies in the U.S., Europe and Russia. Where is the voice of local and international scholarship in the construction of academic and public discourse on these complex geopolitical processes in the region today? What do contemporary scholars have to offer in the understanding of new Great Game and in reducing the impacts of conflicts, injustice and violence? The purpose of this conference is to explore the concept of regional geopolitical rivalry using cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural lenses and diverse ethnographic and historical sources beyond the scope of traditional political sciences approach to this concept.

The key note speaker war Alexander Cooley, Professor of Political Science at Barnard College and the Deputy Director for Social Sciences Programming at the Harriman Institute at Columbia University. He is also the author of several academic books: Great Games, Local Rules: The New Great Power Contest for Central Asia (Oxford 2012), Logics of Hierarchy: The Organization of Empires, States and Military Occupations (Cornell 2005); Base Politics: Democratic Change and the US Military Overseas (Cornell 2008); and Contracting States: Sovereign Transfers in International Relations (Princeton 2009), co-authored with Hendrik Spruyt of Northwestern University.

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