Workshop 'Reactive responses to extractive practices in Central Asia'. Convened by Dr. Gulzat Botoeva, Dr. Hedwig Waters and Dr. Gül Berna Özcan.

  • Gulzat Botoeva (Organiser)

Activity: Participating in or organising an academic eventParticipation in academic workshop, seminar, course


This workshop aims to examine extractive practices and their local responses in Central Asia. The event aims to foster an interdisciplinary dialogue among researchers on the study of various actors (state, inter/national and local) involved in extractive practices of natural resources and the local reactions that they create. One of the outcomes of the event is to develop a network of researchers with similar interests and regional focus. We are hoping to discuss further opportunities that this network can offer by publishing together, and by applying for grants to provide an interdisciplinary approach to various extractive practices in Central Asia. The event will start off with individual presentations in the morning and will continue with a general discussion in the afternoon.
This workshop was inspired by an initial conversation that approached the concept of ‘extractive practices’ in its broadest sense to include any extraction (and/or use) of over-ground and under-ground resources. In doing so, we became aware of practices of resource extraction conducted by various actors - local people, businesses and international organizations - and at the same time, various responses – moral, political and economic - that these practices create. In this way, ‘extraction’ and its responses become social phenomena that are not only implemented from ‘outside’, but emerge in dialectical interaction with local social, political and economic conditions.
Generally, since the economic opening of Central Asia to the rest of the world, there has been growing competition—both geo-politically and within states—to capture its untapped vast natural resources. On the one hand, in the last decade, diverse international business entities—from not only the neighbouring Russia and China, but also others from the west and Asian countries, like Singapore and South Korea—have rushed to the region and successfully gained lucrative government contracts to exploit underground natural resources. However, with the increasing number of foreign enterprises, the rural residents of Central Asian republics have begun progressively contesting the allocation of landscape and its resources to ‘outsiders’. From Kyrgyzstan to Mongolia, people are turning to the instruments of democracy, such as protests, citizen coalitions and NGOs, while are also applying ‘non-democratic’ tactics through ‘criminality’ to voice their dissent.
Nevertheless, on the other hand, the local people are also active actors of the extractive economy: mining gold and coal, collecting medicinal roots, trading with caterpillar fungus or collecting hashish. In turn, diverse rural residents in Central Asian Republics have attempted to make claims to these lands—either to conserve, express stewardship over and/or to claim for personal economic use.
What are the emergent forms of rural-based politics emerging vis-à-vis large-scale extractive enterprise in contemporary Central Asia? What motivates local treatment of resources? Are local forms of extraction more morally justified than the extractive practices of large corporations, organizations? Are these local practices engendered by these larger geo-political conflicts and claims? Who has the rightful claim to the land?
These are some of the questions that we would like to raise during this small workshop setting in order to foster a good discussion and future collaboration. All participants of the workshop have an interest in different aspects of this broadly defined topic of extractive practices and reactive responses in Central Asia, Tibet and Mongolia.

Period8 Nov 2019
Event typeWorkshop
Degree of RecognitionInternational