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Dr David Lewis and ESRC - funded project: 'Rising Powers and Conflict Management in Central Asia'


In a changing world order, a better understanding of the different ways that states try to manage violent conflict is increasingly important. A three-year ESRC-funded project (2012-2015) examines the divergent responses of Russia, China and the West to outbreaks of armed violence in post-Soviet Central Asia.

Central Asian states have been affected by a variety of internal violent conflicts since the 1990s. Local and external actors have frequently demonstrated very different understandings of the underlying causes of these conflicts and have adopted divergent and sometimes contradictory policies in response. This project aims to unravel the responses of national governments, local peoples and external powers, such as China, Russia and the US, to three significant outbreaks of violence in recent years: in Andijon, Uzbekistan, in 2005; in the Rasht valley of Tajikistan in 2010-11; and in Osh, Kyrgyzstan in 2010.

The research project involves a team of three academics from the universities of Exeter, Bradford, and Newcastle, working together with the London-based NGO Saferworld. The team will conduct research in China, Russia, and in Western and Central Asian states. This will consist of analysis of policy reports and other formal documents, interviews with a wide range of policy makers in the capitals of major powers and those directly affected by conflicts in the Central Asian region, and ethnographic study of conflict mediation programmes in practice.

Apart from a wide range of intended academic outputs, the project is designed to inform discussion among Russian, Chinese, Western and Central Asian policy makers about different ways to manage and resolve conflict, thus attempting to improve mutual understanding in a region of potential strategic competition and political volatility.

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