Experts, Activists, and Changing Paradigms of Development in Central Asia and Beyond
The University Library System (ULS) invites you to join guest speakers in conjunction with the exhibit ‘Travelers Along the Silk Roads: 10th Century to the Present’ located on the ground floor lobby and second floors exhibit cases in Hillman Library.
Senior Lecturer, East European Studies, University of Amsterdam
Throughout the Twentieth Century, Soviet planners as well as western observers saw Central Asia as the most economically and socially “backward” area of the USSR. At the same time, Moscow showcased its development efforts in the region to post-colonial states in Africa and Asia seeking new models of development. Soviet Central Asian experts were sent to developing countries to provide advice on economic planning, agricultural modernization, and industrialization. From the late 1960s, Central Asian experts frequently took part in conferences, workshops, and training programs organized by organizations like the UN Development Program (UNDP). The perceived failure of socialist development models contributed to the centrifugal forces that tore apart the USSR in the late 1980s. After 1991, the newly independent Central Asian states took welfare and growth as political goals and invited international institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and individual countries like Germany, Japan, and the US, to help achieve them. Most of these donors subscribed to the “Washington consensus” that stressed fiscal discipline as well as minimum state intervention and regulation – the opposite of what Soviet development presumed - and emphasized private initiative. Looking out from Central Asia, this talk will consider how paradigms of development travel, in space and time, and how they are taken up, transformed, and spread again from seemingly divergent ideologies and models of political development. More concretely, it asks why approaches to economic and social development that emphasized state-led initiatives, large-scale projects, and mass mobilization, came to focus on instead on individual initiative, small scale enterprise, and a limited state role? It challenges the common assumption that these paradigms entered the socialist world only after 1991 and erased what came before.
Thursday, March 28 at 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.