The IIS’ Central Asian Studies Unit (CASU) organised a lecture, entitled The State of Science and Scholarship in Central Asia: Challenges and Possibilities, delivered by Dr. Duishon Shamatov, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Central Asia (UCA).

In his introductory remarks, Mr. Hakim Elnazarov, Coordinator of CASU, highlighted the importance of understanding various dimensions of educational reforms and the challenges of scholarship in Central Asia in order to make meaningful interventions in the advancement of science and scholarship in the region. While there is noticeable exposure of Central Asian scholarship to modern educational and research methodologies, the output of academics in the region remains questionable and wanting.

Developing critical and constructive thinking and attitudes, as well as adaptation and contextualisation of the various methodologies, generally stand out in debates on the improvement of scholarship in Central Asia. At the same time, collaborative endeavours between indigenous and foreign scholars appear to emerge as other means of improving the quality of research in the region.

Talking about the state of scholarship in Central Asia, Dr. Duishon Shamatov emphasised that, while scholarship in Central Asian republics had achieved certain scope, prominence and quality during the Soviet period, Soviet-era scholarship has been criticised for its highly-politicised backdrop and reductionist projections.

He explained that most Soviet research, including the research emerging from Central Asia, primarily attempted to make aggressive arguments to disprove and delegitimise Western scholarship. It had been shaped by ideological imposition and often represented personal political interpretations rather than conclusions based on rigorous empirical fieldwork. After the break-up of the USSR, there appeared new challenges related to research and scholarship. In addition to the lack of incentives for conducting research, most scholars seem not to be equipped with modern theories and knowledge of cutting-edge research and its methodologies.

In his presentation, Dr. Shamatov advocated joint collaborative research and peer-reviewed publications engaging the local and foreign scholars as platforms for mutual learning and knowledge generation. He presented a mechanism of such initiatives and how it could be implemented in the Central Asian context with the support of individual scholars and institutions.

Dr. Duishon Shamatov is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Central Asia (Central Administration in Bishkek). His research focuses on primary, secondary and higher education, curriculum, education quality, and professional development of teachers. He is a co-chair of the Public Lecture Series at UCA.