Uzbekistan’s self-reliance 1991-2010 : public politics and the impact of roles in shaping bilateral relationships
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This thesis applies role theory to understand how Uzbekistan’s bilateral relationships became either conflicting or cooperative between 1991 and 2010. Roles are key elements of social interaction as they describe plausible lines of action in a particular subject-person. They are thus a helpful way of identifying actors and constructing narratives. Furthermore, if they are seen as metaphors for drama, one may argue that roles - as opposed to personal identities - encapsulate autonomous action, which, like a text, ascertains meaning beyond the author’s intent. In other words, by separating action from intent, one may regard politics in a different light - as interaction emplotted by roles -, thereby revealing how actions contradict a set of roles and lead to conflict and crises in public credibility. This manner of emplotting relationships divulges an alternative story that, rather than focusing on Tashkent’s strategic balancing and alignment, demonstrates how Uzbekistani leadership gradually developed an overarching self-reliant role set that shapes its actions. Moreover, Uzbekistan’s cooperative and conflicting relationships are described less in light of strategic survival rationale than as the outcome of gradual role compatibilities arising through time. Therefore, unlike some other accounts, this thesis argues that, throughout Uzbekistan’s first twenty years of independence, public disputes were crucial to understanding interaction and also that Tashkent was never actually aligned with Russia or the United States. To bring forth this argument, the following chapters expound the assumptions behind some scholarly research and develop the concepts of self-reliance, roles, action, public sphere, credibility and narrative. The discussion progresses toward self-reliance and how the concept captures President Karimov’s roles, which are used to emplot Uzbekistan’s interaction with the United States, Russia, Germany and Turkey. The first two are relevant for analyzing whether roles reveal more than the typical accounts based on security balancing. Germany is then included because its relationship with Tashkent was rarely conflicting in the public sphere, allowing it to increase bilateral trade and secure a military base in Uzbekistan after the 2005 Andijan Crisis. It was thus a relatively stable connection, unlike Tashkent’s relationships with Washington and Moscow. Lastly, to control Germany’s middle-power status, the case of Turkey is brought to the fore since Ankara’s willingness to engage with Tashkent was not enough to foster cooperation.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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