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Center for Eurasian and Central Asian Studies

The Center for Eurasian and Central Asian Studies (CECAS) has been investigating diverse phenomena of the Central Asian region since 2014. In its first year, the Center examined the development of countries that gained independence as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union into regional powers, focusing on their policies toward China. In 2015, it reconstructed the process of their incorporation in the international order while collecting, organizing, and analyzing materials on the lifestyle and culture of the Central Asian Korean diaspora (Koryo-saram). In 2016, CECAS focused on the interpretation of the analyzed materials as part of its ongoing research.

Research Topics

In 2016, CECAS focused on investigation of cultural phenomena in Central Asia. Previously, the Center had defined the dimensions of political systems in Central Asia from regional and global perspectives, and building on its findings, in 2016, it examined the culture of Central Asia through the predominant religion of the region, Islam. The Center adopted a multi-layered approach where several researchers with expertise in different disciplines used methodologies of their choice to analyze the history of Islam in Central Asia and the characteristics and role it played in politics, economy, society, culture, and education in Central Asian countries after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

In addition, the Center carried out two other projects on the culture of the region. One of them focused on collecting, categorizing, and digitizing materials related to the traditional culture and life of Koryosaram. In 2016, the researchers conducted interviews and collected and organized photographs, videos, documents, and other relevant data in Uzbekistan. The other project aims to introduce the culture of Central Asia in Korea. From October 24 to 28, 2016, CECAS hosted a guest lecture, traditional musical instrument performance, film festival, academic seminar, photo exhibition, item exhibition, and other events demonstrating various cultural assets of Uzbekistan to facilitate a deeper understanding of the Central Asian region.

Major Research Outcomes

In 2016, CECAS researchers published articles introducing their findings. Ka-young Ko analyzed how Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have become multiracial nations incorporating over a hundred ethnicities, focusing on the modern history of the Tatars and Koryo-saram. Tae-yeon Kim interpreted the origin and formation of emerging radical Muslim organizations in Central Asia from the perspective of comparative politics. Seung-jo Yang examined the influence of modernization attempts in Central Asia in the nineteenth century and Islam policies of the Russian Empire on the Kazakh Steppe. Ik-joong Yoon discussed the desired and actual role of the Central Asian region in the global and regional competition between the US and Russia. In his investigation of the process of acquisition and consolidation of power by the Karimov forces, Sunwoo Lee focused on their policy toward Islam. Youngkwan Jo explained how worldwide debates on Islamic capital can be applied to the Central Asian region. The Center plans to publish a compilation of studies based on these articles as a single volume in the first half of 2017.

Through their fieldwork in Uzbekistan, the Center researchers collected 72 books and documents, 3,471 photographs, 208 videos, 264 sound records, 8 event records, and 190 other items related to the traditional culture and life of Koryo-saram. In the future, the Center will provide these materials as research data through its database.

Outlook and Tasks for the Future

In the next four years, CECAS will carry out research in four main directions.

First, it will continue examining the regional identity of Central Asia. Redefining their regional and national identity remains a major task for the states that formed in Central Asia after the collapse of the Soviet Union and an enormous effort is being put in that endeavor. CECAS will consistently observe and analyze this type of movement in the region.

Second, the Center will conduct research on Islam, which is one of the core elements for understanding Central Asia. Compared to other Muslim regions, Islam in Central Asia is more tolerant from a theological viewpoint and more secular due to the influences of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. Characterized by these features, Central Asian Islam functions as a frame of reference regulating the lives of local residents. The Center’s persistent interest in the topic of Central Asian Islam is based on the premise that studying this complex phenomenon is of critical significance for understanding the region.

Third, CECAS will examine the topics of relocation and separation and, as an extension, the racial problem of Central Asia. Historically, the region has been a site of cooperation, confrontation, and livelihood of multiple ethnicities. With forced deportation during Stalin’s rule, Central Asia became an “exhibition of races,” co-habited by over a hundred different ethnicities. For these reasons, the problems of relocation, separation, and diaspora are highly sensitive for the region. The awareness of these issues has prompted CECAS to intensify its research on the subject.

Fourth, the Center is interested in the topic of space in Eurasia and will look into the problem of East-West exchanges as one of its axes. Geographically, Central Asia is the heart of Eurasia, and its importance will further increase in the future. CECAS plans to research East-West exchanges starting from a study on relations and interactions between Korea and Russia.


Ka-young Ko (2016). Repatriation of Crimean Tatars in Central Asia: From a Unique National Movement to a Universal Human Rights Movement. The Western History Review Vol.130

Ka-young Ko (2016). Kazakhstan Bespermak and Soybean Paste Soup: The Koreans between the Ethnic Identity and Hybridity. Journal of Western History Vol. 38

Ka-young Ko (2016). Crimean Tatar as Internally Displaced Persons—The Crimean Peninsula Occupation by the Nazis and the Deportation to Central Asia. Korean Journal of German Studies Vol. 31

Ka-young Ko (2016). Cross-border Encounters and Hierarchy of Korean Diasporas in Ussuriysk. Journal of History and Culture Vol. 59

Tae-yeon Kim (2016). A Comparative Study of the Conditions and Factors for the Emergence of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT). Russian Studies Vol. 26, No. 2

Seung-jo Yang (2016). Russian Expansion in Central Asia and the Centralization of the Emirate of Bukhara in the First Half of the 19th Century. Soong Sil Sahak Vol. 36

Seung-jo Yang (2016). Peasant Resettlement Policy of the Russian Empire in the Second Half of the XIX Century—Focusing on the South-Ussuri Region. Sa Chong Vol. 87

Seung-jo Yang. 2016. The Policy of the Russian Empire toward Islam and the Role of Orenburg Muslim Spiritual Assembly (OMDS) in the Time of Catherine II. Russian Studies Vol. 26, No. 2

Ik-joong Yoon (2016). The Development of Russia-US Relations in Central Asia under Putin`s 3rd Presidency. Sino-Soviet Affairs Vol. 40, No. 3

Sun-woo Lee (2016). The Karimov Regime`s Islam Policy in Uzbekistan: A Strategic Choice for Building Personal Dictatorship. Sino-Soviet Affairs Vol. 40, No. 3

Young-kwan Jo (2016). A Study on Activities of the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) in Central Asia. Journal of Slavic Studies Vol. 31, No. 3


Beomshik Shin (Dept. of Political Science and Int’l Relations)

Myungkoo Kang (Dept. of Communication)
Jeongwon Kang (Dept. of Anthropology)
Youngho Nam (Shinhan Univ.)
Wonkyo Oh (Kyungpook Nat’l Univ.)
Ikjoong Yoon (Hallym Univ. of Graduate Studies)
Sunwoo Lee (Dept. of Political Science and Int’l Relations)
Hyungho Jeong (Chonbuk Nat’l Univ.)
Youngkwan Jo (Korea Eximbank Overseas Economic Research Institute)

Research Fellows:
Kayoung Ko (SNUAC)
Taeyeon Kim (SNUAC)
Seungjo Yang (SNUAC)
Ayoung Choi (SNUAC)

Research Assistants:
Jongyo Park (SNU)
Seoungsoo Yuk (SNU)
Kumkang Lee (SNU)
Suyu Lee (SNU)
Ri Choi (SNU)