The Central Asian States: Discovering Independence

The Central Asian States: Discovering Independence

The Central Asian States: Discovering Independence

The Central Asian States: Discovering Independence

Synopsis

"An important addition to the literature on the subject & of interest to specialists as well as general readers. Drawing on lifelong study & personal knowledge of the people & the area, Gleason gives a comprehensive, up-to-date, & well-documented treatment of the new states. A sober assessment of the region's legacies & the current nation-building problems faced by Central Asian leaders in a new international environment." Teresa Rakowska-Harmstone Harvard University

Excerpt

Early in 1991, as the Soviet Union began careening toward its demise, Alexander Motyl of Columbia University and Susan McEachern of West- view Press conceived the idea of assembling a series of studies on the separate "post-Soviet states." the series envisaged chronicling and analyzing developments in each of the newly independent countries. the intent was to describe and analyze these new countries in terms of their unique historical traditions and of the lingering effects of the common legacy of the Soviet period. the series sought to treat each of the new countries independently in a compact yet reasonably comprehensive way.

From the outset of this undertaking, treatment of the five former Soviet republics of Central Asia presented special problems. Geography, history, language, and culture had closely linked the societies of Central Asia. Present-day Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tojikiston, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekiston shared common languages, historical traditions, and values in a way that bound them together as inheritors of common cultural traditions. None of these states had ever existed as an independent country. They were linked by their common traditions much more closely than were, for instance, the countries of Western Europe, Latin America, Africa, or even colonial America. in light of these considerations the series editors, as both a practical and theoretical matter, posed the following question: "Are the present states of Central Asia one or many?" This book should be read as a detailed answer to that question.

The Central Asian states are nominally independent, but they are not islands. They are passing through a process of independence and decolonization that will continue to strongly influence their national traditions and aspirations. the lessons of other cases of decolonization should be borne in mind from the onset. Comparisons between the current Central Asian situation and the "decade of decolonization" (1957-1967) in Africa, for instance, offer many suggestions regarding the pitfalls and promises of the process of decolonization. Another lesson that should be drawn from the experience of other decolonizing countries is the importance of international organizations. the CPSU--the Communist Party of the Soviet Union . . .

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