Research Trip to Kazakhstan: Examining EU Policies in Central Asia with UACES Scholarship Support

Nosirkhon Qodirov |

I was awarded the UACES scholarship to conduct my field research in Kazakhstan. In June 2024, I conducted fieldwork in Kazakhstan’s two main cities: Astana, the capital, and Almaty, the country’s trading, scientific, and cultural hub, to collect data for my PhD thesis, which analyzes EU’s policies and perceptions in Central Asian countries. The main aim of my research trip was to collect data related to my research topic from printed mass media and to conduct interviews with experts in the field.

 

Astana Fieldwork and the Europe Day Celebration

In Astana, I had the opportunity to participate in the Europe Day celebration at the beginning of June. EuroFest2024 was a vibrant event where representatives from EU member states showcased their cultures. In addition to the EU member states, representatives from EU implementing projects provided information about various EU programs and initiatives in the region. This event was open to the public and served as an excellent platform for me to gather first-hand information. Engaging with EU project coordinators and representatives from different EU member states provided me with practical insights into the implementation and impact of EU projects in Kazakhstan and Central Asia in general. These interactions were essential for understanding EU-Central Asia relations.

 

Research Collaboration and Academic Resources in Almaty

This research trip facilitated valuable collaborations and networking opportunities. During my stay in Almaty, I was based at the China & Central Asia Studies Center (CCASC) of KIMEP University as a visiting scholar. This affiliation provided access to the extensive resources of the CCASC and KIMEP’s library. The library housed numerous articles and books related to my research topic authored by KIMEP researchers as well as other scholars from Kazakhstan and Central Asia. Many of these resources were in local languages and published in regional academic journals, which are not available online. This unique access significantly enriched my research. During my stay, I engaged in discussions with researchers at KIMEP, receiving constructive feedback that helped refine my work. These interactions and networking opportunities were invaluable for the development of my dissertation. Moreover, I conducted interviews with experts and researchers in Kazakhstan, which enriched my data and provided valuable insights for my thesis.

 

Data Collection at the National Library of Kazakhstan

I also collected data from the National Library of Kazakhstan. This institution’s vast resources allowed me to explore the history of EU-Central Asian relations from the early years of Central Asian independence. I accessed a wealth of articles, books, and newspapers relevant to my study. A key component of my research involved analyzing the perception of the EU in Kazakhstani mass media. For this purpose, I collected news articles from two widely read Kazakhstani printed media outlets, available at the National Library of Kazakhstan since their first years of publication. The resources available at the National Library were crucial for conducting this analysis, allowing me to examine the portrayal and visibility of the EU in local media over time.

 

Concluding remarks

Thanks to UACES’ generous financial support, I was able to conduct this fieldwork, and I extend my heartfelt gratitude for their assistance. The academic resources and collaborative opportunities at KIMEP University in Almaty, along with the cultural and professional engagements in Astana, access to unique regional resources, direct engagement with researchers, and participation in significant academic and cultural events, enabled me to gather substantial data and insights. This experience will significantly enhance the completion and quality of my thesis and, hopefully, contribute to EU-Central Asia studies.