Uzbekistan: Transition to Authoritarianism on the Silk Road

Uzbekistan: Transition to Authoritarianism on the Silk Road

Uzbekistan: Transition to Authoritarianism on the Silk Road

Uzbekistan: Transition to Authoritarianism on the Silk Road

Synopsis

Neil J. Melvin is a Senior Lecturer in Russian and Central Asian Politics in the Institute for Political and International Studies at the University of Leeds, UK.

Excerpt

With the demise of the Soviet state at the end of 1991, Central Asia has emerged from a hundred years of relative obscurity. From being something of a backwater within the Soviet Union, within a few years Central Asia has been transformed into a region at the heart of the rapidly changing political, economic and social landscape of Eurasia. Uzbekistan lies at the core of Central Asia itself, a country bordering all of the other states of the region. Uzbekistan is the most populous country within Central Asia and is potentially the most powerful of the area's states. With the region's largest armed forces and strong ethnic and historic ties to territories in all the neighbouring states, Uzbekistan functions as the lynchpin to the whole Central Asian region.

The current volume is intended to serve as a broad introduction to Uzbekistan for those who have little experience of Central Asia but wish to learn more about the critical events and processes that have affected the territories and peoples of contemporary Uzbekistan. the book is divided into four chapters, each of which outlines a principal theme: history, politics, economics, and foreign relations. a short section at the conclusion of the volume entitled 'Further Reading' directs the reader to a selection of materials that offer a more in-depth treatment of the themes explored in the current study.

Chapter One examines the history and culture of Uzbekistan. Although Uzbekistan is a relatively new state, created as an administrative unit by Soviet planners in the early part of this century and achieving independence in 1991, the territories of contemporary Uzbekistan have played host to a rich past. Historically, the lands of modern Uzbekistan have been the home for a variety of important civilisations and empires. Powerful cities grew up across the region, fed by the trade of the Silk Road, the rich agricultural lands and the ability of the region's rulers to establish viable political and economic systems to harness the region's resources. the population of the area embraced Islam and in certain periods the region became a centre for advanced learning and culture.

Through the centuries, migrations, conquest and trade brought the population of the region into contact with a wide variety of peoples from Europe and Asia. the legacy of this historic mixing of peoples was the development of complex societies, built around a myriad of

UZBEKISTAN: transition to authoritarianism on the silk road

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