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Mediating the Conflict in the Rasht Valley, Tajikistan

The Hegemonic Narrative and Anti-Hegemonic Challenges

In: Central Asian Affairs
Author:
Edward Lemon Department of Politics, University of Exeter, ejl212@exeter.ac.uk

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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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