Less than a year after Associate Professor of Organizational Studies Barbara Junisbai joined the board of the Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS), she flew to the capital of Uzbekistan to participate in CESS’ 2022 Summer Conference as the chair of the society’s communications committee. Hosted by the University of World Economy and Diplomacy in Tashkent, it was the first academic conference of its kind held in Uzbekistan.
Junisbai described the conference, which took place from June 23 to June 26, as “monumental.” She said the government of Uzbekistan has been implementing political and economic reforms since 2017, opening up to the international community after more than a decade of isolation.
“CESS’ conference, which brought together scholars of Central Asia from Uzbekistan and the rest of Eurasia, Europe, and the US, was an important part of the country’s steps toward re-engagement,” said Junisbai, who was elected to the CESS board in fall 2021.
During the press conference, former and current CESS board members, including Professor Junisbai, fielded questions from Uzbek media outlets. Board members explained the spirit and intent of the conference—to bring together established and up-and-coming scholars from all over the world to share ideas, debate perspectives, and hone arguments. Holding the conference in Tashkent made it possible for Uzbek scholars to network with peers across the region and beyond, something that had been previously very difficult to achieve, Junisbai said.
CESS, which is dedicated to studying Central Eurasia through interdisciplinary and international lenses, held the 2022 conference jointly with the European Society for Central Asian Studies.
Professor Barbara Junisbai is a specialist in Central Eurasian politics and society. Her forthcoming book on intra-elite conflict in post-Soviet autocracies is under contract with Cornell University Press. Junisbai earned a PhD in political science and an MIS in information science from Indiana University. She received a BA in international relations and geography from San Francisco State University. She said it was as an undergraduate that she was first introduced to Central Eurasia and spent time in Uzbekistan.