WCED Lecture. “The Power of Weak States in Central Asia.”


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  • Speaker: Baktybek Beshimov, visiting professor, Northeastern University; visiting scholar, Center for International Studies, MIT
  • Host Department: Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies (WCED)
  • Date: 04/08/2014
  • Time: 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

  • Location: 1636 International Institute/SSWB, 1080 S. University

  • Description:

    This lecture will focus on the intriguing relationship of the weak states of Central Asia with great powers. Dr. Beshimov will describe what goals the local ruling elites pursue in their relationship with the U.S., Russia, and China; what tactics they use to manipulate the interests of these superpowers; and how this interplay of strategies and tactics impacts state building processes in the region. He will discuss how the concepts of “state weakness” and “strength” in the context of the complex geopolitical environment in the region take on unexpected forms and bear new meanings.

    Dr. Baktybek Beshimov is a visiting professor at Northeastern University and visiting scholar at the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He combines extensive experience in politics, education, diplomacy, and development. In politics, Dr. Beshimov was twice elected to the parliament of Kyrgyzstan, where he served as leader of the opposition fraction and parliament representative to the OSCE. In education, he served as provost/vice president for academic affairs of the American University in Central Asia and president of Osh State University. At both schools he promoted liberal arts education—an educational system very novel in that region to this day. In diplomacy, Dr. Beshimov served as Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan to India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh. In development, he played a key role in formulating development policy in Kyrgyzstan as national manager of the United Nations Ferghana Valley Development Program and of the UNDP LIFE program in the 1990s. In 2010 the National Endowment for Democracy awarded Dr. Beshimov the prestigious Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowship. Also in 2010, he was a visiting scholar at Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. In 2011-2013, he was a visiting professor of government at Suffolk University. Dr. Beshimov is co-author of the books Ferghana Valley: The Heart of Central Asia, Civic Movements in Kyrgyzstan, and Interethnic Relations: Practice and Problems. He is a frequent contributor to international and regional media, and his articles have been published in the Wall Street Journal, Transitions Online, and other publications.

    Recent publications:

    Part of the series Pluralism in Politics and Culture, a new initiative jointly sponsored by CREES and WCED that examines the foundations of free and open societies. The project builds on the university’s rich legacy of study and support of the dissident culture in the former Soviet Union and on several existing efforts at U-M. The series focuses on multiple facets of political pluralism, including its legal, cultural, and economic dimensions, and explore them in a broader historical context.

    Sponsors: WCED, CREES

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