A Dozen Years of Central Asia: an archaeologist’s blog
The paper provides, in a series of anecdotal observations and accounts, an impression of the main political and cultural conditions under which archaeology is being conducted in Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan) in the early years of the 21st century. The author uses almost exclusively the experience of his own work in the region since 2009. The observations made over the best part of a dozen years suggest an amalgam of factors influencing the work of archaeologists there, ranging from post-Soviet national and ethnic ideologies voluntarily adopted by some native practitioners, to quite open and complete control and even suppression by the authorities in parts of the region. The status and behaviour of foreign archaeologists is often ambiguous, with a degree of compliance with ‘local conditions’ usually required in order to do any work at all. The attraction of the tremendously rich archaeology of Central Asia, as well as hopes of contributing to changes for the better, often appear to outweigh individual concerns about collaboration with the local powers that be.