June

02
2005

10:30 am EDT - 12:00 pm EDT

Past Event

Understanding Social Unrest in Uzbekistan and Central Asia: New Perspectives and Novel Methodologies

Thursday, June 02, 2005

10:30 am - 12:00 pm EDT

The Brookings Institution
Falk Auditorium

1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC

Central Asia is increasingly the subject of public attention and international concern. Relief at the peaceful outcome of the recent revolution in Kyrgyzstan has now faded in the face of protests and repression in Uzbekistan, which have already proven much more violent than events in Kyrgyzstan, and have the potential to become even more so. Extreme poverty and weak economies, ethnic fragmentation and fears of increasing Islamic fundamentalism, coupled with the region’s strategic location, heighten concerns about the potential for terrorism. Increasing repression seems an unsustainable survival tactic for fragile governments there, yet they seem to lack obvious alternatives.

Is revolution imminent in a number of Central Asian countries?
How great are the security risks in the region?
What can governments there do to avert social unrest?
Is there a role for international actors?

No one can pretend to have definitive answers to these questions. Yet a team of Brookings scholars have been thinking about these questions for many months. Scholars at the Brookings Center on Social and Economic Dynamics have designed novel analytical methods that are uniquely suited to the analysis of bottom up social phenomena, in this case based on the relationship between individual grievances and aggregate social unrest. These scholars have developed a computational model of civil violence, which depicts social dynamics similar to those that seem to be driving the recent unrest in Uzbekistan. The model is informed by a recent survey conducted in four countries in Central Asia, as well as by field work in the region conducted by several scholars on the team. The group will present the findings from their research, based on modeling work, survey data, and recent visits on the ground. They will discuss the implications of this research for governments in Central Asia and for the international community more generally.

The team includes: Joshua Epstein, Andrew Felton, Clifford Gaddy, Carol Graham, Tim Gulden, Fiona Hill, Kevin Jones, and Jon Parker. Selected members of the team will present their work, followed by an open discussion with scholars and policymakers in the audience.

BY INVITATION ONLY. For more information, please contact Katie Busch by e-mail at kbusch@brookings.edu or call 202/797-6467.