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Asien-Orient-Institut UFSP Asien und Europa (2006–2017)

From Socialist Pasts to Developmentalist Futures: European and Chinese Development Schemes for Central Asia

Verantwortlich für das Postdoc-Projekt: Dr. Christine Bichsel

Teehaus in Südkirgistan (Bichsel 2007)


With the advent of the post-socialist period, Central Asia faces new schemes to induce social change and improve the human condition. After independence, European and U.S. American analyses have reframed post-Soviet Central Asia as a region in need of ‘development’. Conversely, Chinese Central Asia has become a focus of state development schemes which aim to redress the perceived lack of development in the Western part of China. To date, the continuities and ruptures of present and past developmentalist paradigms in Central Asia have gained little academic attention. The present project addresses this gap. Its main objective is to provide an account of how post-socialist development schemes alter the state and subjectivity in Central Asia. With regard to the state, it asks how development changes forms of governance and the nature of state territory. With regard to subjectivity, it looks into how development modifies people’s sense of who they are vis-à-vis themselves, groups or the state. For this objective, the project foresees to conduct two case studies in Central Asia; a first case study in Kyrgyzstan and a second in Xinjiang province, China. The comparative analysis of these two case studies will bring to light similarities and differences of European and Chinese development schemes for post-socialist Central Asia.

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