Central Asia often evokes images of imperial power rivalry dating back to the 19th century. Yet as the region’s international politics becomes more complex in the age of globalization, the need for new ways of looking at its many actors is more pressing than ever. Today even the traditional great powers rely increasingly on subtle forms of influence to augment their military might and economic clout in order to achieve their objectives in Central Asia.
Bearing this in mind, Soft Power in Central Asia examines the patterns of attraction and persuasion that help shape the political choices of countries in the region. Starting with an investigation of soft power projection by the US, Russia and China, it sheds light on normative transfer and public diplomacy of the European Union, Turkey and Israel, and concludes with a discussion of the Central Asian republics’ active stance in the competition for the hearts and minds.
Containing original chapters contributed by leading experts in the field, the volume will appeal to scholars and professionals with interest in international relations, political science and Central Asian studies.
Kirill Nourzhanov is senior lecturer at the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Australian National University.
Sebastien Peyrouse is research professor in the Central Asia Program of the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies at George Washington University.
Chapter 1. Alexander Diener and Vincent Artman. US Soft Power in Central Asia.
Chapter 2. Kirill Nourzhanov. Russian Soft Power in Central Asia: Government Policy Helped by Resurgent Russophilia.
Chapter 3. Sebastien Peyrouse. An Increasingly Hard Chinese Soft Power in Central Asia? Reshaping Joseph Nye’s Concept under Authoritarianism.
Chapter 4. Emilian Kavalski. The European Union and Central Asia: Absent Soft Power in a Far Neighborhood.
Chapter 5. Murat Yurtbilir. Trajectory of Turkish Soft Power in Central Asia after the Collapse of the Soviet Union.
Chapter 6. Bruno De Cordier. Israel in Southern Eurasia: The Legitimacy Quest of a Contested Entity.
Chapter 7. Reuel R. Hanks. Russian and Chinese Hard/Soft Power Projection in Kazakhstan: Challenge and Response.
Chapter 8. Aminat Chokobaeva and Drew Ninnis. Less Attraction, More Fear: The Future of China and Russia’s Soft Power in Kyrgyzstan.
Chapter 9. Karolina Kluczewska and Payam Foroughi. The Soft Power of Neoliberal Civil Society: The Case of Post-communist Tajikistan.
With a much-needed emphasis on context, the contributors offer perspectives on Russia’s regional advantages, China’s hurdles with Sinophobia and the occasional tone-deaf initiative from the US. Through the different case-studies the book also provides a refreshing appraisal of Joe Nye’s conception of soft power, questioning the hard power–soft power binary and expanding the concept of who can be a soft power actor.
Scholar Joseph Nye’s concept of soft power, indicating the role of persuasion over coercion in global politics, needs no introduction. The term has been part of common scholarly and diplomatic language since he first proposed the idea 30 years ago. However, before Soft Power in Central Asia, there were few book-length examinations of the phenomenon in the region. This edited volume does much to not only elucidate Nye’s thinking but also to explore the role of external powers in Central Asia and the ways that Central Asians balance those relationships. Chapters explore the many ways the US, Russia, China, the EU, Turkey, and Israel advance their interests and influence in Central Asia through secular and Islamic education, television, religion, and the promotion of values, to name but a few methods. Those chapters are followed by one each on Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. The contributions fit together well, and because each chapter addresses Nye’s arguments independently, they could be read individually… [A] comprehensive index and useful bibliographies guide readers. Recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty; professionals.
This book offers culturally sensitive accounts of how soft power is perceived and treated in diverse social, political, and ideological environments. Unpacking how soft power influences Central Eurasia, this book is a great read for both those who accept it and those who question it.
Nourzhanov and Peyrouse, leading a group of outstanding scholars, have produced a book that comprehensively examines the issue of soft power in Central Asia. As the editors note, this is a long-neglected topic, despite the fact that Central Asia is now a pivotal zone of intense and complex rivalries among various major and middle powers, both old and new. At a time when global power dynamics are in flux and a range of questions swirl around the future of Central Asia and its neighborhood, this book provides a detailed exploration of all these issues, and will be welcomed by anyone with an interest not only in international relations and soft power specifically, but also in middle power strategy, Central Asian politics, and development in the globalized world.
10/18/22, International Affairs: This monograph was featured as a top five book of October.