Anne de Tinguy (dir.)

Looking into Eurasia : the year in politics provides some keys to understand the events and phenomena that have left their imprint on a region that has undergone major mutation since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991: the post-soviet space. With a cross-cutting approach that is no way claims to be exhaustive, this study seeks to identify the key drivers, the regional dynamics and the underlying issues at stake

Observatoire politique de l’Amérique latine et des Caraïbes de Sciences Po

Amérique latine - L’Année politique is a publication by CERI-Sciences Po’s Political Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean (OPALC). The study extends the work presented on the Observatory’s website (www.sciencespo.fr/opalc) by offering tools for understanding a continent that is in the grip of deep transformations.

Bayram Balci, Juliette Tolay

While the issue of Syrian refugees has led an increasing number of countries to work on curbing arrivals, one country, Turkey, hosts almost half of these refugees. Yet, far from imposing restrictions, Turkey has distinguished itself for its open border policy and large-scale humanitarian contribution. Turkey’s generosity alone is not sufficient to understand this asylum policy put in place specifically for Syrians. There are indeed a number of political factors that indicate a certain level of instrumentalisation of this issue. In particular, Turkey’s benevolent attitude can be explained by Turkey’s early opposition to Assad in the Syrian conflict and its wish to play a role in the post-conflict reconstruction of Syria, as well as by its willingness to extract material and symbolic benefits from the European Union. But the refugee crisis also matters at the level of domestic politics, where different political parties (in power or in the opposition) seem to have used the refugee issue opportunistically, at the expense of a climate favorable to Syrians’ healthy integration in Turkey

avec la collaboration de Madhi Mehraeen et Ibrahim Tavalla

War since 1979 and the reconstruction of the state under Western tutelage since 2001 have led to a simplification of the identity of Afghan society, through an invention of ethnicity and tradition – a process behind which the control or the ownership of the political and economic resources of the country are at stake. Hazarajat is a remarkable observation site of this process. Its forced integration into the nascent Afghan state during the late nineteenth century has left a mark on its history. The people of Hazara, mainly Shi’ite, has been relegated to a subordinate position from which it got out of progressively, only by means of jihad against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s and the US intervention in 2001, at the ost of an ethnicization of its social and political consciousness. Ethnicity, however, is based on a less communitarian than unequal moral and political economy. Post-war aid to state-building has polarized social relations, while strengthening their ethnicization: donors and NGOs remain prisoners of a cultural, if not orientalist approach to the country that they thereby contribute to “traditionalize”, while development aid destabilizes the “traditional” society by accelerating its monetization and commodification.

Anne de Tinguy (Dir.)

"Looking into Eurasia" provides some keys to understand the events and phenomena that have left their imprint on a region that has undergone major mutation since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991: the post-soviet space. With a cross-cutting approach that is no way claims to be exhaustive, this study seeks to identify the key drivers, the regional dynamics and the underlying issues at stake.

Due to the growing importance of religion in post-Soviet Russia and the prevalent place of the Orthodox Church in Russian politics, certain analysts have argued that Russia is undergoing a process of desecularization today. While this phenomenon is also occurring in other parts of the world, Russia is different from these cases—notably because of its sociopolitical history and its particular religious context. Instead of opposing this trend toward desecularization to the earlier trend toward secularization at the time of the Soviet Union, the emphasis is put on the continuity of governemental practices. Religion today has become an essential part of a mode of governing that was made possible through a form of identity-building reinvented by the elites. This mode of governing reflects to a certain extent the continuity of the Soviet mode of governing characterized by a non pluralist ideology.

Pakistan was created in 1947 by leaders of the Muslim minority of the British Raj in order to give them a separate
state. Islam was defined by its founder, Jinnah, in the frame of his “two-nation theory,” as an identity marker
(cultural and territorial). His ideology, therefore, contributed to an original form of secularization, a form that is
not taken into account by Charles Taylor in his theory of secularization – that the present text intends to test and
supplement. This trajectory of secularization went on a par with a certain form of secularism which, this time,
complies with Taylor’s definition. As a result, the first two Constitutions of Pakistan did not define Islam as an
official religion and recognized important rights to the minorities. However, Jinnah’s approach was not shared
by the Ulema and the fundamentalist leaders, who were in favor of an islamization policy. The pressures they
exerted on the political system made an impact in the 1970s, when Z.A. Bhutto was instrumentalizing Islam. Zia’s
islamization policy made an even bigger impact on the education system, the judicial system and the fiscal system,
at the expense of the minority rights. But Zia pursued a strategy of statization of Islam that had been initiated
by Jinnah and Ayub Khan on behalf of different ideologies, which is one more illustration of the existence of an
additional form of secularization that has been neglected by Taylor.

Marc-Antoine Pérouse de Montclos

In Nigeria, the Islamic terrorism of Boko Haram raises a lot of questions about the political relationship between so-called "religious" violence and the state. At least three of them expose our confusions about islamization, conversion, radicalization and the politicization of religion, namely:
– Is it a religious uprising or a political contest for power?
– How does it express a social revolt?
– How indicative is it of a radicalization of the patterns of protest of the Muslims in Northern Nigeria?
A fieldwork study shows that Boko Haram is not so much political because it wants to reform the society, but mainly because it reveals the intrigues of a weak government and the fears of a nation in the making. Otherwise, the radicalization of Islam cannot be limited to terrorism and it is difficult to know if the movement is more extremist, fanatic and murderous than previous uprising like the one of Maitatsine in Kano in 1980. The capacity of Boko Haram to develop international connections and to challenge the state is not exceptional as such. Far from the clichés on a clash of civilizations between the North and the South, the specificity of the sect in Nigeria has more to do with its suicide attacks. Yet the terrorist evolution of Boko Haram was first and foremost caused by the brutality of the state repression, more than alleged contacts with an international jihadist movement.

The inclusion of Hindu nationalist parties in India's democratic process has not resulted in their moderation in a linear way. Since 1947, the parties have oscillated between a sectarian strategy of religious mobilization and a more moderate one respecting the secular norms of the Constitution. Whether the Hindu nationalist parties opted for the path of radicalization or that of moderation has chiefly depended on their relation with their mother organization, the RSS, the perception of the Muslims that prevails at a given time in India, of the attitude of the other parties regarding secularism and - in correlation with the variables mentioned above - of the most effective electoral tactic.

Anastassios Anastassiadis

This article addresses the sensitive question of Church-State relations in Greece. Recent studies have suggested that the Greek Church’s discourse was plainly incompatible with modern conceptions of liberal democracy. Populism and nationalism have been the two theoretical concepts used in relation with the Church. Discourse analysis based on public declarations of Church officials has been the main methodological tool. The Greek identity cards’ crisis of the nineties has been its testing ground. Through an analysis of this “crisis” this article intends to show that these methods can offer only very limited perspectives of understanding the process for two main reasons. First, they show little interest for sociological analysis and especially for the internal functioning of the Church. Second, discourses are one outcome of the actors’ strategies but have to be deciphered and not taken for granted. Analysts disregard one of the main presuppositions of semantics theory: discourses are produced within a specific socio-historical context and according to certain prefabricated schemes. This dual pattern of production allows for continuity as well as for change. Thus, this article also argues that a Church¹s conservative discourse may be closely related to the efforts of certain actors within this institution to renovate it. While refuting the “clash of civilizations” thesis, this article finally intends to suggest that the renewed interest for religion in general and orthodoxy in particular due to this thesis should be put to use by researchers in order to acquire new and more comprehensive socio-historical accounts of the Greek Church.

Françoise Daucé, Myriam Désert, Marlène Laruelle, Anne Le Huérou

Since the second half of the 1990s, the theme of national revival crystallized in Russia, notably in the form of a promotion of patriotism. The apparent convergence between an offer “from above” and a demand “from below” supports the idea that there exists a kind of patriotic consensus in Russia. This new tense and autarchic fusion between state and society summons old stereotypes about Russo- Soviet culture. This issue of Questions of Research seeks to go back over these stereotypes in order to show the diversity of “patriotic” practices in Russia today (which widely surpass the “militarist” variant generally evoked) and the connected social uses that are made of it. Following an overview of the existing literature on Russian nationalism and patriotism, as well as a presentation of the patriotic education curricula being implemented by the Russian state, our study on “patriotic” practices continues through several points of observation (patrioti c summer clubs and camps for children and adolescents in Saint- Petersburg, Moscow and Omsk; ethno-cultural organizati ons; Orthodox religious organizations; and the discursive practices of economic actors). The examination of these different terrains reveals the diversity of everyday “patriotic” activities; and illustrates their utilization to multiple ends (pragmatic concern for one’s professional career, search for a personal source of inspirati on, opportunities for enrichment, pleasure of undertaking activiti es with one’s friend and relations…). In the end, these fieldwork surveys reveal motivations and commitments in which official patriotic discourse and the image of state are often secondary, sometimes even denied.

Elisabeth Sieca-Kozlowski

The post-Soviet Russian army, having decided to maintain the draft, must address issues associated with the existence of ethnic and religious minorities; specifically the growing numbers of Muslims and the proselytizing by the Orthodox Church. The Russian Orthodox Church’s policy of blessing the troops is the source of growing discontent among the Muslim community. The two conflicts in Chechnya have further contributed to the difficulties faced by the army’s Muslim minority. However, protests by Muslim leaders have lost their legitimacy since 1999. The policies of reconciliation led by Vladimir Putin have born fruit. The Muslim religious authorities have become increasingly involved in the draft, army officers have been educated about the basic principles of Islam, and “stroibaty” have been dismantled. The management of the forces however remains a source of tension, most notably the official policy of using the reorganization of local and ethnic groups to eradicate the “dedovchtchina”. Given the growth of the Muslim population what can we expect from a move to a professional army? Will the armed forces mirror the diversity of the nation or will they be ethnically and religiously homogeneous?

Bayram Balci

Post-Soviet Azerbaijan is the theater of an Islamic revival in the public sphere, a direct consequence of exiting from the empire and achieving independence, which involved the rehabilitation of religion, even the integration of Islam in a new national identitarian policy. Azerbaijan stands out from the rest of the former USSR by the fact that it is the most secularized Muslim country due to its early entrance into Russia’s bosom and the fact that it was long the ground for an ideological clash between the Shiite Persian Empires and the Sunni Ottoman Empire. It is through the convergence of internal factors – a preserved Islam despite the anti-religious Soviet policy – and external factors – the influence of neighboring countries, Turkey, Iran and the Arab world – that Azerbaijani Islam has been reconfigured since the end of the communist era. Eager to preserve the country’s secularity – the pride of the elites – and to ensure that the religious revival does not turn into a source of tension between the two essential components of its population (Shiites and Sunnis), the state has – with difficulty and sometimes a lack of subtlety – set up a religious policy that is far from receiving general approval. However, even if its handling of Islam is disputed, the Azerbaijan government controls the religious phenomenon through a policy that alternates between tolerance and repression.

Zuzanna Olszewska

Though Afghan emigration results from sociopolitical circumstances (drought, changes in the system of government, wars) and from the economic structure (pastoralism, seasonal cycles of productive activities), it is part of a historical continuum of recurrent population movements in the region. Many Afghans, particularly Hazaras, have settled in Iran since the end of the 19th century. Their presence in the country intensified during the 1970s following the Iranian oil boom and the Afghan drought, but also following the political upheavals in Afghanistan since 1978. The Islamic Republic has adopted a changing and rather inconsistent policy to deal with these immigrants, and in a both popular and formal climate of xenophobia the country’s current objective is to repatriate them. Yet, the presence of Afghans on Iranian soil seems irreversible as it satisfies economic needs, reflects the intensity of commercial exchanges between the two countries, and constitutes a complex cross-border social reality. Lastly, the Afghan presence stokes a public and legal debate on how to define citizenship, while it appears to be inherent to the Iranian conception of its own nation.

Rémi Castets

With a substantial Uyghur population, Xinjiang (East Turkistan) is, after Uzbekistan, the second largest Muslim Turkic-speaking area of settlement area in Central Asia. Annexed by China fairly late, this territory has a tumultuous history punctuated by foreign interference and separatist insurrections. Through strict control of the regional political system and a massive influx of Han settlers, the communist regime has managed to integrate this strategic region and its large oil deposits into the rest of China. However, over the past twenty years, unrest in Xinjiang has dramatically intensified. Less familiar to Western countries than the problem of Tibet, the Uyghur question is nevertheless a deeper source of concern for the Chinese authorities. After a long media blackout about this unrest until September 11, 2001, the Chinese government issued a series of documents attempting to depict the Uyghur opposition as an outside terrorist force linked to transnational Islamist terrorist networks. This rhetoric, which portrays the current unrest as a foreign attempt to destabilize the region, conceals a deep socio-political malaise and an opposition that actually takes on a far different shape from the vision official discourse tries to impose.

Emilie René

The concept of "world community" is nowadays very commonly employed by researchers dealing with the social aspects of globalization. At the same time, the words "islam" and "umma" -be they used by medias, politicians or scholars- have sometimes assumed the existence of such a community which is supposed to link all Muslims wherever they live. This kind of approach was strongly revived during the "Rushdie affair": the transnational dimension of the protest against the writer and the very content of ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa furthered it.The starting point of this paper is to take the "world community" postulate at its word. What are we talking about ? Who speaks about it ? Under what circumstances and from which places ? How the limits of this concept can be established, or rather how can it be constructed by the observer to become useful ? These questions are addressed by examining the early stage of the anti-Rushdie protest in its worldwide dimension. It is suggested that an analysis of the understandings and strategies of the mobilized groups, of their symbolic and concrete transnational interactions, as well as a comparison between the social and political national contexts, help to identify the "interpretive community" which was formed at this juncture.

Olivier Roy

One of the causes of the weakness of the State in the Middle East is that prime allegiance goes to the "solidarity group" (açabiyya), a social network which is always founded on family and personal relationships. These solidarity groups either are committed to a national strategy in order to control the State or, on the contrary, become delocalised and internationalised within diasporas which create their own transnational networks. Solidarity groups are not the expression of the permanence of a traditional society within a modern State, but rather a recomposition of allegiance networks within a political space definitively modified by the existence of a State. This recomposition can take three main forms. Firstly territorial establishment and the development of a community within sub-ethnic groups competing for power: the Kulabis in Tajikistan for example. Secondly the delocalisation of power networks which fade away once their objective, the obtaining of State power, is achieved (the Samarkand faction in Uzbekistan). Finally it can be achieved by the linking to an international network, for example that of humanitarian aid. These different types of recomposition do not weaken the State as such, which remains the framework of any possible inscription in the political space. But they do hinder the transition towards an ethnic State which can function only when it is built from above: thus Uzbekistan exists - not Baluchistan.

One of the most remarkable social phenomena in Iran in the 1990s is the audacious policy of urban redevelopment carried out by the mayor of Tehran, Gholamhossein Karbastchi. This policy, on the one hand, has become a model for the rest of the country. On the othe, it is the subject of a widespread political debate favorized by the personal, high-profile media style of the city's mayor. The most popular achievement of Karbastchi is the increase in the number of public squares and parks. These public places have become the stage for a whole series of totally new social practices. As such they are both a scene of acts of reconciliation and of potential conflict. In particular they are the setting for a coexistence between the ideology of the Islamic Republic and of national culture.However the increase in taxation that has accompanied this urban renovation has generated opposition both of a political and economic kind. The public's use of these gardens, the perception of the tax burden required to finance them, and the ensuing debates over these questions have opened up a negociating area between social actors, one that might well contribute to the creation of a public space. This process has helped the rationalization and the bureaucratization of society conveyed by the Islamic Republic while, at the same time, being carried out by a political figure who is perceived within the framework of a culturally constructed imagination. In fact the hypothesis of the "rentier" state, posited by a number of authors concerning the Middle East, is extended in this paper through anthropological study.

Raymond Benhaïm, Youssef Courbage et Rémy Leveau

By concentrating on heavy trends within a medium to long term framework, these papers are an attempt to break with the alarmist interpretations which characterize most analyses of events in Nonh Africa. 
On a demographic level, Youssef Courbage shows how emigration to Europe has had a profound influence on the pace of demographic transition in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. In this area these countries already constitute a coherent regional entity. 
In his analysis of economic prospects, Raymond Benhaïm also discerns a logic of integration in spite of the fact that each of the North African countries today favours its bilateral relations with Europe. It is, in fact, in the European interest that these countries become a unified North African market. 
Finally on a political level Rémy Leveau examines the new types of political behaviour of both those who govern and those governed. These forms of behaviour are emerging at a time of social disillusion, and when the urbanised and educated social strata claim to have their say in the organizing of society. Neither the states nor the islamic movements can achieve total victory: in the end a compromise solution should thus prevail. However for this to occur each party will need to give up its reductionist view of the adversary. External parties will need to consider other solutions than providing unconditional aid - against a so-called "green peril" - to those in power, all too prone to refuse the control of those they govem

Back to top