Histories and Memories of Empire and ‘Illiberal Peace’ in Eurasia

Catherine Owen, Shairbek Juraev, Nick Megoran, David Lewis and John Heathershaw
University of Exeter

The significant decline in the level of engagement between Western countries and the countries of Eurasia is well documented. In the last five years, we have seen the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and the closure of its last regional military base in Kyrgyzstan; a sharp decrease in trade between the EU and Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan; and the closure or downgrading of the offices of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan respectively. The global influence of Western forms of governance – democracy, human rights and the rule of law – are at an all-time low and, with the countries of Europe and North America increasingly looking inward and illiberal, this downward trend looks to continue.

What impact does all this have on how we understand the way conflicts are managed and resolved in Eurasia? What principles – if any – ‘replace’ liberal ideas of getting to the root causes of the conflict, ensuring that all parties have the chance to air their grievances, facilitating internationally brokered peace agreements in ‘neutral’ third countries, and reconstructing domestic institutions along democratic and free market lines? And how do regional authoritarian heavyweights and (former) imperial powers, namely Russia and China, seek to influence the outcomes of conflicts in neighbouring states? Indeed, how novel are these developments given the historical constitution of global politics by imperial and illiberal modes of power? Continue reading “Histories and Memories of Empire and ‘Illiberal Peace’ in Eurasia”