Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Dilip Hiro's INSIDE CENTRAL ASIA in N+1
Isaac Scarborough takes a long look at Dilip Hiro's Inside Central Asia in the current issue of N+1: "Hiro’s account provides a fast-moving and well-sourced genealogy of the Central Asian republics’ political and economic trajectories, focusing on the post-Stalinist period up to the present day. It is unlikely that more comprehensive analysis of this period in Central Asia has been written, and it serves as a valuable update to Hiro’s earlier Between Marx and Muhammad: the Changing Face of Central Asia). It quickly becomes clear moreover, that much as in his previous work, Hiro rejects the supposed choice between the Turkish and Iranian models—especially given the ascendancy of the openly Islamic, if not Islamist, Justice and Development Party in Turkey and the elevation of Abdullah Gul to the presidency, which, Hiro says, broke “the secular establishment’s eighty-four year grip on power.” If there is a choice facing Central Asia, it may be which of two histories to return to: pre-Soviet Islam or the authoritarianism bequeathed to the republics by the Soviets, and under which they lived for the greater part of a century."