Mega-events in Kyrgyzstan (1991-2017): Power legitimacy and Unintended/Indirect Nation-building [védés előtt]

Sheranova, Arzuu (2023) Mega-events in Kyrgyzstan (1991-2017): Power legitimacy and Unintended/Indirect Nation-building [védés előtt]. PhD thesis, Budapesti Corvinus Egyetem, Nemzetközi Kapcsolatok és Politikatudományi Doktori Iskola.

PDF : (dissertation)
PDF : (draft in English)


Attempts of regime survival, in particular a continuous re-election of the ruling regimes, is a common pattern in all post-communist states of Central Asia and beyond. Therefore, for the ruling elites acquiring legitimacy, especially in states with weak governance performance capacity to which most of post-communist states belong, is a major concern. In post-communist Kyrgyzstan, once famously labelled as “island of democracy”, the thesis argues that the incumbent political regimes largely relied on state-sponsored invented mega-events or performative projects which celebrate historical commemorative dates and/or mark the national culture. Namely, I look into the following mega-events: Osh City’s 3000-year anniversary in 2000, Kyrgyzstan’s 2200-year anniversary in 2003, Manas Epic’s1000-year anniversary in 1995 and the World Nomad Games (WNG) introduced in 2012. The study thoroughly examines the socio-economic and political contexts under each of these projects between 1991-2017 and concludes that nation-wide mega-events were discursive devices in the hands of regimes in power to legitimate their power. The thesis considers state-led celebrations of anniversaries and games foremost as power legitimacy-building tools for the elites, whereas major existing literature on Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia interprets celebrations and cultural events merely as nation-building initiatives (see Adams 2007, Adams and Rustemova 2009, Adams 2010, Megoran 2017, Ismailbekova 2016, Wachtel 2013, 2016, Hvoslef 2001, Marat 2016, Straube 2008). Having said that the thesis asserts that Kyrgyzstan’s nation-building, which is a central unit of analysis of the thesis, was mostly indirect or unintended because cultural events run by the state were primarily targeted to legitimate regimes in power. The study skips the transition period of 2010-2011 under rule of Otunbaeva, because the term of Presidency of Otunbaeva was pre-agreed to a one-year fixed term and, therefore, it does not apply to the study which is interested in nation-building and legitimacy-making in lasting regimes. The thesis is a qualitative in-depth case study which aims to balance omnipresent state-centred approaches to nation-building by stressing role of micro actors or non-state actors in shaping national identities. More importantly, the thesis revises if not criticizes earlier published works on Central Asia which primarily reproduced the Western scholarship on nationalism studies and did not seek for alternative local models to explain nation-building in non-Western societies, the task which the thesis aims to bring into a scholarly attention.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD thesis)
Supervisor:Dobos Balázs, Abel Polese
Subjects:Political science
International relations
ID Code:1281
Deposited On:06 Feb 2023 09:27
Last Modified:06 Feb 2023 09:27

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