With the collapse of communism, post-communist societies scrambled to find meaning to their new independence. Central Asia was exception. Events, relationships, gestures, spatial units and objects produced, conveyed and interpreted meaning. The new power container of the five independent states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan would significantly influence this process of signification. Post-Soviet Central Asia is an intriguing field to examine this transformation: a region which did t see an organised independence movement develop prior to Soviet implosion at the centre, it provokes questions about how symbolisation begins in the absence of a national will to do so. The transformation overnight of Soviet republic into sovereign state provokes questions about how the process of communism-turned-nationalism could become symbolised, and what specific role symbols came to play in these early years of independence. Characterized by authoritarianism since 1991, the region's ruling elites have enjoyed disproportionate access to kwledge and to deciding what, how and when that kwledge should be applied. The first of its kind on Central Asia, this book t only widens our understandings of developments in this geopolitically important region but also contributes to broader studies of representation, ritual, power and identity. This book was published as a special issue of Europe-Asia Studies.
Sally N. Cummings teaches at the University of St. Andrews. Her current research focuses on the politics of culture and political communication, primarily in Central Asia. Her publications include: Domestic and International Perspectives on Kyrgyzstan's 'Tulip Revolution' (Routledge, 2009), Kazakhstan: Power and the Elite (IB Tauris 2005), Oil, Transition and Security in Central Asia (London and New York: Routledge, 2003) and Kazakhstan: Centre-Periphery Relations (London: Royal Institute of International Affairs and Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 2000).