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The fellows and projects of the Eurasia Lab & Fellowship Program
16/09/2021

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From Civic activism in Kazakhstan during Covid-19, to the impact of the pandemic on gender-based violence in Uzbekisten and Kyrgyzstan and digital activism in Turkmenistan: These are the topics of the Eurasia Lab research teams from September to December 2021.

The impact of COVID-19 on civic activism in Kazakhstan

by Viktoriya Nem, Anna Klimchenko and Kamila Smagulova

The research project aims to investigate how the COVID-19 pandemic affected citizens’ activism in Kazakhstan. The key purpose is to explore the challenges that citizen activists in Kazakhstan faced due to the pandemic, as well as to learn how they adapted (or failed to adapt) their work processes and what role, if any, digital technologies played in facilitating civic engagement.

The team members are affiliated with the PaperLab Research Center based in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. Viktoriya Nem is a researcher whose areas of interest include education, gender equality, and sustainable development. She graduated with a Master Degree in Public Policy (MPP) from Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. Anna Klimchenko holds a Master’s degree for the completed joint study programme “Sociolinguistics and Multilingualism” from Vytautas Magnus University and Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz. Her fields of expertise include language policy, education, and human rights. Kamila Smagulova received her Master of Public Policy degree from Graduate School of Public Policy, Nazarbayev University. As a young researcher, her field of interests include national identity, civic activism, and education.

The COVID-19 pandemic and gender-based violence in Central Asia

by Svetlana Dzardanova and Niginakhon Uralova

The project aims to assess the efforts of the state, local civil society, and international actors in Central Asia in addressing violence against women during the Covid-19 pandemic, focusing specifically on the two countries Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. It will look at good practices, lessons learned, and obstacles encountered by the responsible actors that prevented them from responding more effectively. The research will offer a better understanding of the efforts and role of the state and non-state actors during the Covid-19 pandemic. It will furthermore contribute to better design policies and practices for the prevention of gender-based violence in Central Asia.

Niginakhon Uralova, MA in Politics and Security (Central Asia) and in Human Rights and Democratization in the Caucasus, is an adjunct assistant professor at Webster University in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Her key areas of research interest include studies of Central Asia, human rights issues, and questions surrounding legitimacy of a government in contemporary Islamic political thought.

Svetlana Dzardanova is an Associate at the Central Asia Institute for Strategic Studies. Previously, she worked as Program Manager of the MA Program in Politics and Security and earlier as Research and Training Coordinator at the OSCE Academy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She has written on a broad spectrum of intersecting and regionally focused topics of peace and security, resources, cooperation and international involvement in Central Asia and Afghanistan. Currently, Svetlana is interested in topics of migration and mobility, a variety of gender issues, including economic inclusion and sustainable human development.

Digital Civic Activism in Politically Restricted Space and its Democratization Potential: a case study on Turkmenistan

by Rustam Muhamedov

The research project aims to provide a comprehensive assessment of the expanding Turkmen online civic activism of the past few years in connection to the budding civic activism in wider Central Asia. The project seeks to systematise data on these initiatives, identify their causes and mobilisation strategies, capabilities and weaknesses, positive impact, and potential for laying the groundwork for prospective democratic transformation in the country. The objective of the study is to contribute to discussions on democracy promotion, social media’s role in disrupting hegemonic narratives in authoritarian states, to understand internal dynamics of civic protest movements and their evolution, and provide recommendations to relevant actors, including those supporting democratic transformations in authoritarian states.

Rustam Muhamedov is an independent researcher who focuses on political and security developments in Turkmenistan and wider Central Asia. He is a former national researcher on Turkmenistan for the Global Data Barometer 2021 project and a non-resident research fellow at the George Washington University as part of its Central Asia-Azerbaijan Fellowship Program (Spring 2021). He is also an author of several analytical articles on political developments in Turkmenistan. He is a graduate of the Master’s program in International Relations with a focus on Politics and Security in Central Asia from the OSCE Academy in Bishkek (2019).

About the Eurasia Lab and Fellowship Programme project: Young researchers from Eastern Europe and Eurasia receive support through fellowships to realise their research projects. The Eurasia Lab & Fellowship Programme also helps them network with other researchers and activists working on the region.

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