Episode 8: A Closer Look at Kyrgyzstan
Through the Eyes of a Political Observer
March 10, 2022 — Political analyst Dr. Emilbek Dzhuraev shares his views on his home country Kyrgyzstan and talks about democracy, post-Soviet transitions, and the country's relations with Russia and China. The episode is part of A Closer Look, a series hosted by Asia Society Switzerland with the support of BDO and the Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies of the University of Zurich. The series sheds light on different Asian countries through the eyes of leading local voices. Other episodes in the series cover Uzbekistan, Mongolia, and Pakistan. (59 min., 45 sec.)
Where to go and what to eat in Kyrgyzstan
If you have the possibility to travel off-road, Emil recommends lake Sary-Chelek, "one of the most beautiful lakes" located in between high mountain peaks in Western Kyrgyzstan. His favorite food is plov, a typical Central Asian rice-based dish.
What to read or watch about Kyrgyzstan
The historical novel Broken Sword by a famous Kyrgyz writer from Soviet times, Tologon Kasymbekov, tells a sad story set in pre-Soviet Central Asia, mostly on the Kyrgyz side. According to Emil, it is "one of the most important historical novels that Kyrgyzstanis try to read and make sense of."
Emilbek Dzhuraev, PhD (University of Maryland), is a political scientist and analyst based in Kyrgyzstan. He has taught in the undergraduate and graduate political science programs at the American University of Central Asia and the OSCE Academy in Bishkek. His research and teaching areas included geopolitics, international relations and security pertaining to Central Asia as well as issues of democracy, state-building and constitutionalism in Central Asia. He is a co-founder and a fellow of Crossroads – Central Asia, a Bishkek-based think-tank.
Simona A. Grano is Senior Lecturer at the University of Zurich (UZH) and Director of the Taiwan Studies Project at UZH. She completed her Ph.D. in Chinese Studies at Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy. She has held research positions and taught China Studies and Taiwan Studies at her alma mater, at the University of Zurich in Switzerland and at the National Cheng'chi University in Taiwan. She has also been a visiting scholar at the University of Hong Kong and is a research fellow of the European Research Center on Contemporary Taiwan (ERCCT), in Tübingen, Germany as well as a research associate of SOAS for the year 2021. Simona's regional expertise centers on the People's Republic of China as well as on Taiwan and Hong Kong. She is the author of Environmental Governance in Taiwan: a new generation of activists and stakeholders, which has been published in 2015 by Routledge. Her new co-edited monograph titled Civil Society and the State in Democratic East Asia: Between Entanglement and Contention in Post High Growth (Amsterdam University Press, 2020) analyzes the dichotomy between civil society and the state in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.