Second Annual Conference “Formal” and “Informal” Central Asia: Institutions, Identities and Discourses

American University of Central Asia

Central Asian Studies Institute

September 28-29, 2012

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan


Second Annual Conference


“Formal” and “Informal” Central Asia: Institutions, Identities and Discourses


The first annual conference of the Central Asian Studies Institute at AUCA initiated discussion on the state of scholarship on and in Central Asia. The second conference continues a discourse on how we make sense of the region by taking the alleged boundary between “formal” and “informal” Central Asia as a starting point. As the terms themselves are being hotly debated elsewhere, this conference firstly encourages scholars to look at the nature, scale and legitimacy of such a binary division. It then calls for the deeper analysis of “formal” and “informal” institutions and identities, which are believed to be of key importance in understanding the processes of socio-political and cultural transformation in the region. How have the Central Asian states succeeded in establishing themselves as legitimate power institutions? How should one account for the variations and similarities among Central Asian states and societies in the development of state and non-state institutions and in the construction of their national and local identities? To what extent do the family and kinship based socio-cultural identities remain important in determining the politics in the region? Whether and how have the twenty years of independent statehood transformed regional institutions and identities, and what are the implications for the years to come? Finally, if the concepts of “formal” and “informal” are questioned, what other alternative discourses can be employed to create richer and more complex understanding of the region?


The Central Asian Studies Institute aims to bring together scholars from various disciplines whose active research projects address these and related issues. The conference will take place at the American University of Central Asia on September 28-29, 2012. CASI will have a limited number of travel grants. Applicants who need travel assistance should additionally submit a short online form available at


We encourage both paper and panel submissions. The paper proposals should include a) a 500-word outline of the proposed paper, with a clear title, and b) a short biographical note of the author. Panel proposals should ideally include three papers and have a clearly formulated panel theme. CASI aims to publish the conference materials, so full papers (4,500-6,000 words) will need to be submitted before the conference.

Conference Timeline


April 25, 2012 – early deadline for proposals (priority will be given to these applicants in consideration for travel grants)

May 14, 2012 – regular deadline for proposals

May 29, 2012 – notification of acceptance

September 01, 2012 – submission of full papers

September 28-29, 2012 – conference at AUCA, Bishkek


All proposals and queries should be addressed to  For more about AUCA and the Institute, please visit us at and


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