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Central and Eastern Europe

Regional Perspectives in Global Context

Edited by Constantin Iordachi, Balazs Trencsenyi and Maciej Janowski

Disciplinary and interdisciplinary research on all aspects of Central and Eastern Europe: history, society, politics, economy, religion, culture, literature, languages and gender, with a focus on the region between the Baltic and the Adriatic in local and global context.

Eurasian Studies Library

History, Societies & Cultures in Eurasia

Edited by Dittmar Schorkowitz and David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye

Historical, socio-cultural, and political studies stretching from Eastern Europe to East Asia with the emphasis on cross-cultural encounter, empires and colonialism, gender and nationalities issues, various forms of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and other religions from the Middle Ages to the end of the Soviet Union.

The series published an average of one volume per year over the last 5 years.

Tonio Weicker

It is well known that labor migrants from different countries all over the Eurasian Union are the backbone of crucial economy sectors in the Russian Federation as, inter alia, construction, agriculture or trade. This article deals with another less mentioned but similarly significant labor market, which substantially changed its assemblage during the last couple of years, namely commercial urban transport services. In the last two decades, the marshrutka sector underwent major reforms and formalization processes that, on the one hand, brought operators back into the tax net and ensured a certain extension of control to the local transportation departments but, on the other hand, worsened the labor conditions of the transportation workers. Drawing from the empirical evidence of my fieldwork in southern Russia, I describe currently problematized mobility assemblages and embed the actor’s articulations in broader conflicts within the marshrutka business and transportation regulation policy. I further analyze how labor migrants have been forced to accept unfavorable working conditions in the enterprises as a direct result of politically triggered reforms in the marshrutka business. The paper provides insights into the social arena of the marshrutka, which serves as a societal encounter of urban conflicts and transformation mirroring (un-)intended effects of the local transportation reformation attempts.

Cara Kerven

In Turkmenistan, Islamic charitable alms (sadaka) are a central part of daily life in the desert villages surrounding Gökdepe town, about five hours drive from the capital, Aşgabat. Adults give sadaka for reasons of religious merit, in order to pay respects to deceased family members and prior to major life-cycle events such as weddings. This article links Turkmen sadaka to other life-cycle ceremonies noted in the surrounding Central Asian countries. Life-cycle ceremonies have been theorised in two broadly different ways, as either concerned with prestige and status or as ethical projects. I bring these two approaches into conversation through the notion of social reproduction. Using long-term ethnographic research, I argue that Turkmen sadaka reveals how the economics of daily life and social reproduction are directly dependent on divine gifts. It is an ethical project for those participating that, at the same time, has recognised social consequences in terms of status and prestige.

Giulia Cabras

In the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (People’s Republic of China), history is taught according to Chinese nationalistic guidelines and the history of ethnic groups is built around their relationships with the Han majority. In this context of historical hegemony, the paper examines a series of books for Uyghur children on famous historical characters in order to understand how young generations’ ethnic consciousness can be shaped. The analysis identifies some trends of the Uyghur ethnic discourse transmitted to children (connections with the history of Central Asia and the Middle East, the focus on elements of identification such as Islam and muqams), as well as the presence of a Chinese paradigm that supports progress, secular education, and the standardization of folklore. Furthermore, the article aims to identify how much leeway is given to the development of a counter-discourse, particularly in the transmission of historical and cultural heritage to the younger generations.

Sharon Werning Rivera and David W. Rivera

Will Vladimir Putin’s penchant for staffing the state with siloviki undermine the prospects for democratization after he leaves office? The answer to this question hinges on whether Russian military and security officers currently possess a less liberal worldview than do civilian elites, yet little to no research has examined this question in close to a decade. In an effort to fill this gap in existing knowledge, this article investigates the orientations of influential Russians toward several core components of liberal democracy on the basis of a survey conducted in 2016. We find that attitudinal differences between siloviki and civilians persist into this decade. As was the case in both the 1990s and 2000s, elites with professional backgrounds in the force structures were less supportive of political pluralism and individual rights than were those with purely civilian resumés. In addition, active-duty officers were even less liberal than either their retired former colleagues or lifelong civilians. Finally, unlike the situation that apparently prevailed at the very end of Putin’s second presidential term, conventional military officers now espouse nearly identical levels of support for political pluralism as do officers entrusted with internal security.

Nikolay Petrov and Michael Rochlitz

Control over the security services is a key ingredient of political survival in authoritarian regimes. This is particularly true during periods of leadership succession and high political uncertainty. In this paper, we compare the strategy used by Vladimir Putin towards the siloviki – the Russian security services – with that employed by Xi Jinping towards the Chinese security services. We find that in both countries, the security services have been significantly strengthened in recent years, while at the same time extensive anti-corruption campaigns have been used to eliminate key officials within the security structures. We argue that both developments can be seen as elements of a strategy to increase control over the public, while eliminating potential competition from regime insiders, in view of a deteriorating economic situation, and the constitutional (or quasi-constitutional) term limits faced by Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping in 2024 and 2022, respectively.