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The New Central Asia

by Olivier Roy

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591333,806 (3.3)None
Praise for The Failure of Political Islam: During the anti-Gorbachev coup in August 1991 most communist leaders from Soviet central Asia backed the plotters. Within weeks of the coup's collapse, those same leaders--now transformed into ardent nationalists--proclaimed the independence of their nations, adopted new flags and new slogans, and discovered a new patriotism. How were these new nations built, among peoples without any traditional nationalist heritage and no history of independent governance? Olivier Roy argues that Soviet practice had always been to build on local institutions and promote local elites, and that Soviet administration--as opposed to Soviet rhetoric--was always surprisingly decentralized in the far-flung corners of the empire. Thus, with home-grown political leaders and administrative institutions, national identities in central Asia emerged almost by stealth. Roy's analysis of the new states in central Asia--Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tadjikstan, Kirghizstan and Azerbaijan--provides a glimpse of the future of an increasingly fragmented and dangerous region.… (more)

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Excellent introduction to the history and politics of central Asia. The author thoroughly covers the Muslim lands formerly ruled by the Soviet Union. Although the title indicates that the subject is central Asia (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan) the book also considers Azerbaijan which is in the Caucasus. I suspect this is because there is no brief, catch-all term for "formerly Soviet Muslim republics". The author indicates that the historical experience of Sovietization has shaped the subsequent history, in particular by creating identities that had not existed before. ( )
  Fledgist | Jan 1, 2011 |
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Praise for The Failure of Political Islam: During the anti-Gorbachev coup in August 1991 most communist leaders from Soviet central Asia backed the plotters. Within weeks of the coup's collapse, those same leaders--now transformed into ardent nationalists--proclaimed the independence of their nations, adopted new flags and new slogans, and discovered a new patriotism. How were these new nations built, among peoples without any traditional nationalist heritage and no history of independent governance? Olivier Roy argues that Soviet practice had always been to build on local institutions and promote local elites, and that Soviet administration--as opposed to Soviet rhetoric--was always surprisingly decentralized in the far-flung corners of the empire. Thus, with home-grown political leaders and administrative institutions, national identities in central Asia emerged almost by stealth. Roy's analysis of the new states in central Asia--Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tadjikstan, Kirghizstan and Azerbaijan--provides a glimpse of the future of an increasingly fragmented and dangerous region.

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