The landscape of post-Soviet Central Asia (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrygzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan) is littered with the physical remnants of Soviet development, both positive –health clinics and schools – and negative - decaying factories, polluted soil, and dried out rivers. Less visible are Soviet development’s political, intellectual, and institutional legacies. Yet just as post-socialist states and international development organizations have been forced to deal with the physical legacies of socialism, their approaches to economic development, welfare provision, and governance has been shaped by the socialist past. After the collapse of the USSR in 1991, the newly independent states of Central Asia invited international institutions and foreign donors to help them achieve prosperity and transition to a market economy. At the time, most development institutions and national governments subscribed to the so-called “Washington Consensus” which emphasized financial discipline, minimum state regulation, and open borders. This project proposes to study the influence of Central Asian economists, activists, specialists, and government officials who straddled the Soviet/post-Soviet divide by going to work in national and international development institutions after independence. By studying these individuals and the legacies of their work will allow us to investigate how ideas and practices of economic development and welfare provision were shaped and reshaped at the local and international level. The project will uncover how international development transformed post-Soviet Central Asia, and how the encounter with post-socialist states transformed paradigms and practices of international development. The research will thus make an innovative scholarly contribution to understanding the legacy of socialism, the history of economic development, and the the global history of development.
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