Mediating the Conflict in the Rasht Valley, Tajikistan

The Hegemonic Narrative and Anti-Hegemonic Challenges

in Central Asian Affairs
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Between 2009 and 2011 Tajikistan experienced one of the worst bouts of political violence since the end of the country’s civil war. The fighting was concentrated in the Rasht Valley, an area traditionally associated with opposition to the regime. As a result, the government attempted to fix the meaning of the conflict around the signifiers “international terrorism” and “radical Islam.” This framing directly reproduced the regime’s hegemony through legitimating the removal of opponents and contrasting the Tajik “self” with the terrorist “other.” The hegemonic narrative was incomplete and contained inconsistencies. As a result, anti-hegemonic actors attempted to undermine its legitimacy. Although these critical articulations destabilized the narrative, due to their dispersed and divergent nature, it ultimately maintained its hegemonic position.




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Ibid.; Jorgen Staun, “When, How, and Why Elites Frame Terrorists: A Wittgensteinian Analysis of Terror and Radicalisation,” Critical Studies in Terrorism, 3, no. 3 (2010): 403–420.


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Ibid., p. 110.


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Ibid., p. 210.


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Tajik Television First Channel, 1300, October 23, 2010.


Megoran, “Framing Andijon, Narrating the Nation”; Richard Jackson, “Constructing Enemies: Islamic Terrorism in Political and Academic Discourse,” Government and Opposition, 42, no. 3 (2007): 394–426.


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On July 24, 2012, after the murder of a government official, security forces attacked militants in Khorog, Gorno Badakhshan, leaving more than 42 dead.


John Heathershaw, “Of National Fathers and Russian Elder Brothers: Conspiracy Theories and Political Ideas in Post-Soviet Central Asia,” The Russian Review, 71 (2012): 610–629.


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Tajik Television First Channel, 1600, September 29, 2010.


Sherali Khairulloev, “Ki az ki Boyad Uzr Pursad?” Khovar, October 4, 2010, (accessed March 2014).


Khaidar Shodiyev, “Kak Pogib Mirzo Ziyoev?” Asia Plus, July 14, 2011, (accessed July 2013).



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