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Central Asia at History’s Crossroads

Nargis Kessenova

When discussion turns to Central Asia, one often hears of unmovable structures and immutable institutions. Authoritarian politics are interpreted, not unfairly, as having a longue-durée quality. Whatever change may happen in Central Asia will derive from either elites or external forces. Civil society is rarely part of that analysis.

Whatever validity there may be to these perceptions, infrequently do we learn of the actions and agency of individuals and collectives generating change. It is high time to spotlight those persons and organizations struggling to secure better, fairer, and more equal societies.

No one would deny the uphill climb open society has in Central Asia. Yet we must not discount the diverse efforts by the committed and the passionate to trudge up that hill to make open society a reality some day.

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