State building and conflict resolution in the Caucasus

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This article was downloaded by: [University of Birmingham]On: 17 November 2014, At: 23:24Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UKCentral Asian SurveyPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information: building and conflict resolution inthe CaucasusBayram Balci aa Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches Internationales , ParisPublished online: 10 Dec 2012.To cite this article: Bayram Balci (2012) State building and conflict resolution in the Caucasus,Central Asian Survey, 31:4, 467-469, DOI: 10.1080/02634937.2012.739293To link to this article: SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLETaylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. 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Terms &Conditions of access and use can be found at to the area appears to have stalled and is a stalemate at best (p. 235). The author thenmoves on to describe a different operation in the country, reflecting only minimally on whyMoshtarak was not the success it planned to be. Where is the scrutiny? The criticism? The analy-sis? How would the authors grasp of Afghan culture, politics and geography improve uponMarjahs stalemate? In the absence of the ability to answer these questions, a more valuableapproach would have been to ignore events like Moshtarak altogether and instead focus moredeeply on drawing out the full value of weeks embedded with General Dostum, for instance,or the authors access to Dostums Taliban prisoners.It is perhaps the fact that this book begins with no driving question or argument thatopens it up to a confusing structure that does not overlap appropriately with the authorsclearly valuable experience, expertise and access. This is regrettable, because it is obviousto the reader that only a fraction of the authors prized insight into Afghanistan is representedin this book.J. Edward ConwayUniversity of St 2012, J. Edward Conway building and conflict resolution in the Caucasus, by Charlotte Hille, Leiden, Brill, 2010,xiv + 359 pp., US$153.00 (hardcover), ISBN 9789004179011Charlotte Hilles monograph is more of an historical study than an essay on state building andconflict resolution. Like the vast majority of scientists who have worked on the Caucasus, shemaintains that most of the tensions and conflicts here originate from the tormented history ofthe region, and more especially from the period under the highly repressive and authoritarianSoviet rule.The 20 chapters in the book are of uneven value. The first chapter is an introduction to thegeography and history of settlement in the region. Incidentally, the author here questions clanismin the Caucasian societies as a fundamental and constitutive phenomenon, and asks if it works asan impediment to the development of modern states. To this last question she gives a hurriedjudgment (p. 18), suggesting that clans after 1991 have perfectly managed the ideologicaltransition, adapting themselves from a communist to a nationalist regime.Chapter 2 outlines theoretical elements and definitions that are used throughout the text:population, territory, state, etc. The analysis of the state-building process in the Caucasusthrough the theory of the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States is ofparticular interest. The study of the principles codified and defined in the 1933 MontevideoConvention as well as an overview of the historical context in which it took place casts anew light on the state-building processes at work in the Caucasus today (pp. 2728).Chapters 3 through 13 explain the phenomenon of state building in the South and North Cau-casus before and after the period of the Russian Revolution. For each of the three countries(Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia), but also for the Northern Caucasian republics included inthe Russian Federation, the author provides the chronology of the major events that encouragedand facilitated the emerging of a national phenomenon. And each time, the role of Russia in thestate-building process is extremely important, as the imperial power has always been highlyinfluential in national and identity creation in the Caucasus (p. 47). Chapter 9 sheds light onBook reviews 467Downloaded by [University of Birmingham] at 23:24 17 November 2014 the particularly interesting disputed territories of Nagorno Karabakh, Nakhitchevan andZangezur (p. 163). However, it is regrettable that, on such delicate and sensitive matters, theauthor uses almost exclusively Armenian sources and underuses the serious and exhaustiveworks of Audrey Altstadt (p. 173).Chapter 14 focuses on the year 1991, which is obviously an historical turning point for allpost-Soviet states. The author analyses the role and support of various international institutionssuch as the UN, NATO and OSCE, and of neighbouring countries, whose contribution to theemergence of the newly independent Caucasian states on the international scene has beencrucial. The author argues that from 1991 the debate over state building started again aftera 73-year break under Soviet rule (p. 212). To this reviewers mind, the collapse of theSoviet Union indeed gave an impetus to the public debate over national identity and statebuilding in the Caucasus, but the peoples in the USSR had never really stopped, evenunder the Soviets, questioning their own national identity within and outside the greatSoviet Union.Chapters 15, 16 and 17 are respectively dedicated to the ongoing state-building processes inGeorgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan since 1991. The chronology that led these nations to emerge asindependent states lacks a deeper analysis of the various ideological trends that were in compe-tition at the time. Debates and competition between conservative and progressive forces had animpact on the processes of state building. Indeed, throughout the entire Caucasus region, as inother parts of the former Soviet Union, the period between the perestroika year of 1986 and1992/1993 was rich with debates involving all the very diverse social and political sides: nation-alists, religious, conservatives, pro-Russians, pro-Westerners. Alas, the book does not mentionthese enriching moments of arising political and national self-awareness. In Azerbaijan, forexample, from the early years of the perestroika to the take-over by Heydar Aliyev in 1993,Azeri nationalists, supporters of Pan-Turkism, Islamists, pro-Turkish, pro-Iranians, and pro-Russians variously enjoyed a quite open political freedom. The author mentions the Azerileader Ebulfeyz Elchibey as an advocate for Pan-Turkism, but she fails to provide definitionand content for this multifold concept, which is a central and unavoidable notion in Caucasianand Central Asian studies. One can only bemoan the authors overuse of sources from NGOscompared to scientific studies: these latter works are included in the bibliography but rarelyused in the text.The final two chapters, 19 and 20, deal with conflict resolution after 1991 in both the Northand South Caucasus. For the latter, the author reviews all the international initiatives andmediation efforts from the UN, NATO, OSCE and EU, as well as all bilateral interferencesfrom neighbouring countries like Turkey, Iran and Russia (particularly the latter, which wantsto maintain its control over the South Caucasus). The Turks use their own Caucasian minoritygroups to reinforce their influence in the North Caucasus and in Azerbaijan (p. 323). As for Iran,they could be much more influential than they are now, and have apparently chosen to remain outof the game (p. 324). Chapter 20 focuses on conflict resolution in the North Caucasus. Threepages review the major conflicts and crises that affected or still affect the region since theend of the USSR. It is regrettable that the author merely enumerates them rather than explainingthe reasons why they occurred. She fails to give a full picture of all the religious movementsthat emerged in this period and got involved in local matters, or to decipher the rivalrybetween the central federal government in Moscow and local forces. Chechnya and Daghestan,where tensions have never ceased, certainly deserve in-depth research.All in all, this work of Charlotte Hille is an overview of the numerous conflicts and crisesthat have occurred in this troubled region throughout its entire history. More than a referencebook, it provides a detailed chronology of the conflicts and of the attempts to resolve them.The exhaustive index and numerous maps add value to the whole.468 Book reviewsDownloaded by [University of Birmingham] at 23:24 17 November 2014 ReferenceAlstadt, A., 1992. The Azerbaijani Turks: power and identity under Russian rule. Stanford, CA: HooverInstitution Press.Bayram BalciCentre dEtudes et de Recherches Internationales, ParisEmail: 2012, Bayram Balci genealogical construction of the Kyrgyz Republic: kinship, state and tribalism,by David Gullette, Folkestone, Global Oriental, 2010, xii + 219 pp., 53.00 (hardcover),ISBN 9781906876104In this book, David Gullette challenges conventional understandings of the role and influence ofclans and tribes in politics in Kyrgyzstan. Studies in the political sciences have long conceptu-alized kinship groups as corporate agents to explain regime dynamics in Central Asia. Well-known examples are the works of Kathleen Collins (2006) and Edward Schatz (2004). Gulletteaims to deconstruct such concepts and to highlight their foundation in theories that rest onevolutionist assumptions, which lead observers to misread the social relevance of differentgroups and networks in contemporary Central Asian society.The problem under discussion is introduced with an account of the events of the Tulip Revo-lution in March 2005. The author reconstructs the public debate around tribalism in that time asa specific practice that political agents used to accuse opponents of corruption. This practice, theauthor claims, must be understood as a consciously chosen strategy in a game played by politicalelites. Elites compete for particular goals and loosely form factions, yet such factions do notstand for corporate kinship groups as conceived in concepts of tribes and clans in the politicalsciences.To further develop his argument, Gullette employs the term genealogy in two differentways. He first conceptualizes the social effects of memory practices that are used in Kyrgyzstanto create relatedness, jeti-ata (the recounting of seven forefathers) and sanjyra (the recountingof genealogical relationships), as forms of genealogical imagination. In Kyrgyzstan, peoplepractise jeti-ata and sanjyra to relate themselves to wider networks of relatives, networks thatin Kyrgyzstan are often referred to as uruu and uruk. These two terms have been inaccuratelytranslated as clan and tribe and led observers to assume the existence of corporate kinshipgroups. Against this background, Gullette shows how relating to ones uruu and uruk indeedserves for some individuals to add meaning and importance to their personal and wider commu-nity identity. For example, moral guidance can be found when links to an idealized past areestablished through sanjyra. The resulting relations, however, should not be mistaken asindicators for the presence of corporate kinship groups. Here the author contrasts the effectsof everyday networks of help and assistance between close family members and colleaguesand friends with the often ritualized forms of generating links to the uruu and uruk. Theformer he finds of much more significance to most people in Kyrgyzstan, thus furtherquestioning conventional perceptions of clans and tribes.Gullette, secondly, uses genealogy as an analytical tool in a Foucauldian sense. He wants totrace back the ideological foundations of the Akaev regimes efforts to create a Kyrgyz nationBook reviews 469Downloaded by [University of Birmingham] at 23:24 17 November 2014


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