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“Between Europe and Asia”: Geography and Identity in Post-Soviet Nation-building Narratives

In: Central Asian Affairs
Author:
Joshua Kucera Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University, joshua.kucera@gmail.com

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Formulations of “between Europe and Asia” or “a bridge between East and West” are common in nation-building narratives in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. They appear prominently in both political speech and school textbooks. A close examination of this geographical rhetoric reveals its political and geopolitical subtext. In both countries this discourse tends to value “Western” economic ties while emphasizing the traditional, “Eastern” form of dictatorial rule and the need for national harmony. It also reminds both domestic and international audiences of the geopolitical importance and sensitivity of the countries’ positions.

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