Authors and Authoritarianism in Central Asia: Failed Agency and Nationalising Authoritarianism in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper aims to reconstruct widely accepted concepts of the top-down authoritarian nature of Central Asian politics in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan through a comparative study of the pro-democratic movements that emerged in the late 1980s. By analysing data from interviews with the cultural elites of the late Soviet perestroika period and data on the indigenous nationalist movements such as Erk, Zheltoksan, Birlik and others, we question why such nationalist movements did not “survive” or emerge as a significant political platform as promised in post-independence Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and why they failed to change the political outlook of one party rule or the dominance of one nationalising regime. Furthermore, we analyse how such nationalist movements had an opportunity to turn into semi-democratic movements but failed to transform after their agenda (arguably, independence) was achieved, leaving “communists-turned-nationalists” to continue their policies in newly formed countries. Thus, the paper also looks at how these cultural elites eventually contributed to the local “authoritarianism” and lack of plurality in views and identifications.


External organisations
  • Kyungpook National University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Law and Society


  • authoritarianism, Central Asia, Cultural elites, Kazakhstan, nationalising regimes, nationalism, power, Uzbekistan
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-322
JournalAsian Studies Review
Issue number2
Early online date2018 Mar 26
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Apr 3
Publication categoryResearch