CESS Book Award for Study on Osh & Interpreting Authoritarianism

At the last CESS Conference at Columbia University, Morgan Liu (our new CESS Blog editor!) received the CESS Book Award for best monograph in the social sciences published 2012-2013 for Under Solomon’s Throne: Uzbek Visions of Societal Renewal in Osh (2012 Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press).   


MorganLiu @CESS2014

The prize panellists made the following comments about the book:

“Liu’s book stands to do the most in terms of advancing scholarship on the region as well as a general understanding of the lived experiences of Central Asians.  It does a magnificent job at portraying Central Asian Muslims in realistic and three-dimensional terms.  It is finding an enthusiastic audience among scholars of multiple disciplines, including of course Anthropology and Sociology, as well as IR/Political Science, and has already made its way into the classroom.  Liu’s study is a real field-changer.”

“This ethnographic study gets to the heart of the paradoxical social dynamics that have twice in twenty years propelled the city of Osh into ethnicity-based riots and potential war, sending as many as half a million people fleeing as refugees.  The study is wonderfully researched and brilliantly illustrates the ways in which Osh is reflective of the region as a whole.  It peels back the multiple layers of identity — Soviet, post-Soviet national, neighborhood, regional, religious — and exposes how they combine to inform the ways that people make sense of their lives and the political tensions that they confront on a day to day basis.

The study is bookended by two traumatic ethnic conflicts.  By focusing on the time in between, Liu’s study does a beautiful job of bringing to the fore the complexities of everyday life for all Central Asian peoples.  It is punctuated with a great number of vignettes that illustrate this complexity for the uninformed reader, and I loved his use of the various types of urban space (mahalla served six ways, the street, the gate, etc.) which make so much sense to those of us who have spent extended periods living in the region.  His conclusions are applicable far beyond Osh.  The scholarship is exceptional, it is written in elegant prose, and it stands to improve knowledge about Central Asia among vast audience.”

Liu’s book is remarkable for its, “contribution to the field in terms of really explaining the moral force of authoritarianism (authoritarianism from below, if you wish) and support for a strong state (again, from below) in many Eurasian countries”

Click on following link for information: Under Solomon’s Throne: Uzbek Visions of Societal Renewal in Osh (2012 Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press). 

Morgan Y. Liu <liu.737@osu.edu> is a cultural anthropologist studying Islamic ideas of social justice and the impact of oil extraction on Central Asian societies, looking at connections between Central Asia, Turkey, Russia, and China.  He is an Associate Professor in Anthropology and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, The Ohio State University.  He was a postdoc at the Society of Fellows, Harvard University. His Ph.D. is from the University of Michigan in Anthropology.  About his publications and projects, see on his website: u.osu.edu/liu.737/about-me/.