October 14, 2011
Since gaining independence in the early 90-s the Central Asian states have gone through dramatic social, cultural, economic and political transformations. The timeline of a more than generational change and diverse internal dynamics have produced unique outcomes for all countries and peoples of the region. While starting under seemingly similar conditions, twenty years later the post-Soviet Central Asian states find themselves quite different from each other, yet sharing many common concerns and hopes. The region’s wider context has also changed dramatically with a number of factors and actors pulling these countries apart, so much so that the very notion of the region is now in doubt.
During this period the study of Central Asia has made significant progress towards a broader and deeper understanding of the region’s past, present and future. Spanning various disciplines and focusing on a variety of issues, academic inquiries have been shaping the perception of what the region is, how its states and societies develop, and what major challenges are faced in political, social and economic spheres. Nevertheless, as the Central Asian states move towards their third decade of independence, some important questions remain and many new ones have emerged. If some authors question the very relevance of seeing Central Asia as a “region,” others point to an increasing need for moving the study of Central Asia beyond narrow disciplinary approaches, while a third group calls for a re-evaluation of Central Asia’s role in the broader international environment.