Graduate Student Conference on Сentral Asia

Event Format
In person
CGIS South, 1730 Cambridge Street

The Davis Center is planning a graduate student conference devoted to Central Asia in April 2024. We invite paper proposals from graduate students at any stage, including master’s students, working on a topic related to Central Asia within any discipline. The conference will allow U.S.-based graduate students to present their original and ongoing work in a professional environment and receive feedback from peers and experts within the field.

 Proposals may include topics related to the following themes:  

  • In and Out of Central Asia: Rise of Connectivity 

The notion of being at the crossroads of civilizations and markets has been at the core of Central Asian identity. The region is trying again to position itself as a bridge connecting East and West, North and South. In the aftermath of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, these efforts have received a strong boost. Both the countries of the region and their partners (the countries of the South Caucasus, Turkey, the European Union, the United States and others) see a more acute need to diversify transport routes and supply chains and make them less dependent on transit via Russia. The war is also changing migration patterns – many Russian citizens have moved to the region, while Central Asian labor migrants are looking for other destinations, turning Central Asia into a center of new mobilities. We invite papers that critically assess the past and present changes in connectivity between Central Asia and other regions. 

  • State and Society: A New Social Contract? 

The political systems of Central Asian countries have been under multiple pressures. Power transition is always a formidable challenge in highly personalized authoritarian regimes. Generational change is creating new expectations and demands from societies. Growing inequalities are contributing to grievances and discontent. The ideas of social justice and more equitable distribution of wealth are increasingly at the center of public policy discourses. What political systems and arrangements are desirable and feasible in the Central Asian context? Do we see new social contracts emerging? Can we envision better alternatives? We invite papers that tackle these themes using the lens of  political science, political theory, political economy, and sociology. 

  • Inspired and Inspiring: Hybrid Identities in Central Asia 

Central Asia’s striking multiethnic diversity has created dynamic cultural outputs and new identities reflecting the complex backgrounds of its inhabitants. It has been a site of multi-layered, multicultural exchange for millennia. In the 20th century, the Soviet policies of deportation, ethnic cleansing, forced labor, wartime evacuation, and large-scale infrastructural projects brought unprecedented numbers of Soviet citizens to the region from different parts of the country. The legacy of these events is still keenly felt today and warrants closer examination. We invite contributions from multiple disciplines, including history, religious studies, anthropology, sociology, political science, and other relevant fields of inquiry.  

Interested graduate students should complete this online form by January 31, 2024. Submissions must include:  

  • A working title and brief (no more than 300 words) description of your paper’s central argument;  
  • Biographical information including your full name, institutional affiliation, graduate program of study, and current year in that program; and
  • Travel and logistical details.  

Notification of acceptance will be no later than February 15, 2024. If accepted, participants must submit their registration form accepting their participation by February 28, 2024. Final papers must be received by April 10, 2024

Please send any questions about the conference or this call for proposals to Nargis Kassenova and Kateryna Olkhovyk.


The Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact us at 617-495-4037 or in advance of your participation or visit. Requests for Sign Language interpreters and/or CART providers should be made at least two weeks in advance if possible. Please note that the Davis Center will make every effort to secure services but that services are subject to availability.