Posted by: Borderless Borderguard | November 20, 2007

Why is it so depressive to read about Central Asia?

Reading academic, policy papers or journalist articles about Central Asia is not the most pleasant occupation. I don’t understand why, but usually reading about this region, I need to get prepared emotionally for the negativism. Shame, sadness, frustration, anger, depression, hopelessness, ignorance and other negative feelings strike me while reading. (the more I read the less I seem know)

I don’t mean this is good or bad. Maybe in Europe this is just a style you write about this region. Maybe they do not know enough to make a more comprehensive analysis. Maybe they just can’t be bothered, and analyze through western lenses. But it is not only western works which are negative, the same is with locals. No matter what aspect is in focus, Human Rights, or democracy, or economic development, security, religion, society, minorities… etc. etc. it goes on and on… they are full of problems and disappointments. There are really few works done on really trying to understand the logic  of the people in the region.

They aren’t that evil. They simply aren’t. I hear journalists saying terrible things about CA, and then in the next moment, they say, they love Uzbekistan, the people, the cities, they are so friendly… but then they do their job, where they know the audience wants to hear horrors. and they sell horrors. maybe i am wrong, this is just a thought, don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

Maybe I am not the only one who is disturbed by emotional negativism while researching on Central Asia. Would be good to hear your opinion…



  1. I have a special perspective on this topic you bring up. While most of “Central Asia” scholars focus on the independent ‘Stans, I study Xinjiang, which I consider historically and culturally to belong to the Central Asian sphere but, unlike the independent CA states, still remains part of a larger, non-Central Asian nation. A nation with very, shall we say, interesting laws regarding the sharing of information.

    So if corruption, rising religious extremism, unstable economies, and heavy-hearted academic coverage of these negative subjects are making you feel a little depressed, I invite you to the wild world of Xinjiang studies, where I claim (tongue fully in cheek) only happy, happy things can be found. New energy grid opened! Continued ethnic harmony! Medical insurance for all! Disposable income rising! Development continues as planned! Separatist, I mean, terrorist attacks lower than ever!

    It’s a whole different beast on this side of the border. 🙂

  2. […] —Nafisa, […]

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