Remembering ESCAS 2013 in Astana



IMG_5776 IMG_5812IMG_5807





Timetable ESCAS 2015


Proposal Deadline until 16 March 2015
Notification of Acceptance until 10 May 2015
Online Registration coming soon
Registration Payment Deadline until 1 September 2015
On-Site registration for Delegates 8 October 2015
Start of the Conference 8 October 2015

Upcoming ESCAS Conference in Zurich Oct 8-11 2015

Central Asia in the XXI Century: Historical trajectories, contemporary challenges and everyday encounters

The past is not only a “foreign country” where people “do things differently” (Hartley 1953), it is also the source of inspiration to which people in Central Asia turn to, looking for guidance in how to shape their own future. A concurrent trend in all Central Asian countries since the break-up of the Soviet Union has been the actualization of history for contemporary challenges. Such utilizations are occurring whenever claims about a historical past are successfully established in a new setting, imbuing contemporary institutions and practices with the spirit of history.

These utilizations often take the character of re-traditionalizations. During the conference we want to look at these processes and their meaning for new social and cultural configurations. What do, for example, the recurrence of pastoral nomadism, the instigation of councils and local courts, the renewed interest in spiritual practices or the turn towards certain food-products, medicines, literary forms or musical instruments tell us about the role of history in contemporary everyday encounters? Visiting shaiks or going to mosque, drinking kymyz, gathering in a kurultai, designing garments, raising animals, going on a pilgrimage, watching movies of historical figures are all manifestations of a new type of self-consciousness as well as novel expressions of regional and national identification.

For the 14th ESCAS Conference in Zurich, Switzerland, we invite panels and papers that investigate how re-traditionalization becomes manifest in different fields ranging from economy, law, language, religion, politics or culture in the broadest sense. We encourage investigations that trace how these processes happen, and by whom they are carried out. What are their reasons, purposes and effects of existence? We encourage participants to rethink the concept of re-traditionalization in the context of wider transformation processes that are taking place simultaneously in Central Asia, materializing in modernization projects, joint ventures, custom unions, labor migration, military cooperation or educational reform. We also encourage papers that critically analyse the implications of these re-traditionalizations: What are the intended and unintended consequences? Who benefits, who loses and who is left out?

Please go to the following website for further information:


We hope to hear from you soon,

Your Organizing Committee

Peter Finke, Judith Beyer and Eliza Isabaeva

ESCAS President and Board (2013-2015)

ESCAS President

Professor Meruert Abusseitova (Almaty)

ESCAS Board:

Professor Ildiko Beller-Hann (Copenhagen)

Professor Judith Beyer (Konstanz)

Dr Alima Bissenova (Astana)

Dr Sally Cummings (St Andrews)

Professor Zhanylzhan Junussova (Astana)

Dr Gabriel McGuire (Astana)

Dr John Schoeberlein (Astana)

Dr Qahramon Yaqubov (Tashkent)

Meet the ESCAS Advisory Board

Professor Touraj Atabaki (Leiden)

Professor Ayşe Güneş Ayata (Ankara)

Professor Peter Finke (Zurich)

Dr Vyacheslav Belokrenitsky (Moscow)

Eva Chylinski (Tbilisi)

Dr Matteo Fumagalli (Budapest)

Professor Jadwiga Pstrusinska

Dr Irina Morozova (Berlin)

Professor Gabriele Rasuly-Paleczek (Vienna)

Professor Dr Alexander Morrison, (Astana)

Professor Catherine Poujol (Paris)

Dr Tommaso Trevisani (Halle)

Professor Siddharth Saxena (Cambridge)

Dr Cholpon Turdalieva (Bishkek)

Dr Anne-Marie Vuillemenot (Louvain)


You can join ESCAS by sending the following information to the

membership secretary and treasurer Dr Zifa-Alua Auezova



First name

Second name



Mailing address

Postal/Zip code






Fields of interest


The Lifetime membership fee is € 100.

A special reduced fee of 50 applies for citizens of the following  states: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

You can pay the membership fee by making a transfer to the following bank account:

Rabobank Bank, Account number: 143912747

Account holder: Zifa Auezova, “for ESCAS related payments”

IBAN: NL97 RABO 0143 9127 47 BIC: RABONL2U

Bank address: 87-91 ‘s-Hertogenbosch, 5224AS, Netherlands


In 1985 a group of scholars from the Netherlands, Germany, France, Great Britain, and Denmark, working within Central Asian Studies decided to establish informal cooperation with the purpose of promoting joint research and interdisciplinary studies among European scholars on Central Asia.

The Department of Oriental Languages and Cultures of the University of Utrecht  took the initiative to organise the first and founding conference of ESCAS, inviting also scholars from Central Asia.

The immidiate purpose of the conference was to define the geographic area of Central Asia which would be dealt with.It was agreed to include the Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan as well as adjacent areas of Mongolia, Northern Iran, Northern Afghanistan and Northwestern China. A primary reason for establishing ESCAS was to give Central Asian Studies the status of a separate research field in its own right, independent of Soviet and Eastern European studies, to establish research links with disciplines working within the same historical and cultural continuum in adjacent areas, and to create opportunities for direct cooperation between scholars of the former Soviet Central Asia and scholars in adjacent areas. It was agreed to hold conferences in order to maintain and develop European research cooperation and the exchange of information.

Since then the following conferences have taken place:

ESCAS II, London (1987), convened by the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.

ESCAS III, Paris (1989), convened by Centre de Recherches Scientifiques en Sciences Sociales et Politiques, Paris.

ESCAS IV, Bamberg (1991), convened by the Department of Oriental Studies, University of Bamberg.

ESCAS V, Copenhagen (1995), convened by the Carsten Niebuhr Institute of Near-Oriental Studies, University of Copenhagen, in collaboration with the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS).

ESCAS VI, Venice (1998), convened by “Universitaa Ca Foscari di Venezia” in Venice, Italy.

ESCAS VII, Vienna (2000), convened by the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Vienna.

ESCAS VIII, Bordeaux (2002), convened by the Maison des sciences de l’homme Aquitaine and Institut français d’Etudes sur l’Asie centrale (IFEAC)

ESCAS IX, Krakow (2005), convened by Jagiellonian University.

ESCAS X, Ankara (2007), convened by the Middle East Technical University

ESCAS XI, Budapest (2009), convened by the Asia Research Initiative at the Central European University.

ESCAS XII, Cambridge (2011), convened by the Cambridge Central Asia Forum.

ESCAS XIII, Astana (2013), convened by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Nazarbayev University

ESCAS on Twitter