Development and Urbanization
This roundtable aims to develop connections and interfaces between academic research on the history, anthropology, and present condition of industrial projects in Central Asia and their practical economic and political implementation and impact. Central Asia appears on the contemporary world map not just as a post-Soviet sphere of geopolitical contestation, conflict and social deprivation, but also as a space of multiple and entangled modernities that have their representation in materiality and objects, above all. Paradoxically, despite the overall importance of industry for the societies, economies, and political development of Central Asian states, area specialists have conducted relatively little research on industry, (national) economies, and entrepreneurship following the collapse of the USSR. Scholars in economics and applied social sciences are more accustomed to meeting industry representatives and engaging with companies, while researchers in humanities focus their outreach on civil society organisations. They all, however, face challenges in meeting policymakers and big business in the region of Central Asia, in large part due to the specificities of the countries’ political and economic systems. At this roundtable, we would like to emphasise the role of the nation-states and the remaining centre-periphery relationships in industrial projects in Central Asia (Moscow – Central Asia; Beijing – Central Asia; or the EU – Central Asia) and their implications for the population recruited in the industries and living in industrial areas. This will connect post-colonial and post-socialist problematics of socio-economic transformation in the region and provide a platform from which to analyse geopolitical actors’ interests and performance in the region. Roundtable participants will present aspects of their on-going research related to industries in the contexts of socialist and post-socialist economic models and outcomes in Central Asia, linking the regions current economic development to its modern history and prospects for growth. Importantly, we will include the experiences of practitioners (from international and regional organisations and state and private enterprises) in order to stimulate discussion on the possible development of industry from the perspective of science, technology, or the public sector.