The Territorial Construction of Independence: Networks and Sovereignty in Post-Soviet Central Asia

Special Report: Networks and Borders: Geopolitics (I)
By Julien Thorez

After the collapse of the USSR, territories inherited by central Asian countries were land-locked, fragmented and interwoven. This territorial organisation was not appropriate to the Kazakhstan’s, Kyrgyzstan’s, Uzbekistan’, Tajikistan’s and Turkmenistan’s new sovereign status. In the context of post-Soviet geopolitical transition, lack of spatial cohesion, functional interdependence and land-lockedness are a problem for the state’s viability and sovereignty. Because of the political, economical and social constraints produced by this spatial configuration, the post-Soviet politics of nation building include a territorial approach. The territorial politics consists to functionalise borders, develop the capitals and, to reorganize the transport infrastructures. On a national scale, the central Asian states want to optimise their networks for their own need, to unify national spaces and to reduce the interdependence produced by the Soviet policy. On an international scale, they support the constructions of alternative routes and the reorientatio no fair space to incorporate Central Asia within Eurasia and to modify regional mechanisms of geopolitical domination. Contributing to rising accessibility, the adjustment of the national infrastructures reduces the territorial obstacles to the sovereignty of central Asian states. Beyond the transformation of the territorial organisation, the development of transport networks also functions as semiotic device developed to affirm the legitimacy, sovereignty and centrality of post-Soviet central Asian states.

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