Since early 2020, the world is at war with an invisible and elusive enemy that has forced all countries to implement extraordinary measures. Following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease outside mainland China, all countries have had to impose quarantine and the lockdown and confinement of entire cities, close their borders, and severely restrict their citizens’ freedom. Central Asia has not been sparred by the virus. After having been able to contain the deadly virus in the early Spring of 2020 thanks to the imposition of strict quarantine measures, it has unfortunately been severely hit by a second wave a few weeks later. Needless to say that this pandemic may leave behind profound political and social changes and ought to force societies to learn lessons from their fight against this virus.
This situation raises numerous questions, namely:
- What has (have) been the main vector(s) of contamination of the Covid-19 in Central Asia? Has (have) it (they) been different from the one(s) elsewhere in the world?
- How can we explain the lack of readiness of the Central Asian health care systems?
- Following what surveys and polls have shown, people of Central Asia have shown a lot of skepticism about the virus and have displayed a significant lack of trust toward their government, which has also led to the development of a growing number of conspiracy theories. What are the reasons that can explain this phenomenon?
- What will be the long-term socio-economic impact of this virus on the Central Asian republics?
- With China’s economy aiming to recover very quickly from this crisis, will this lead the Central Asian republics to open their respective economies to their Eastern neighbor? If this is the case, could this lead to a geopolitical shift in the region?
Scholars are invited to study these questions (and many more) in an upcoming edited volume on the impacts of the Covid-19 virus on Central Asia to be published with Palgrave MacMillan in the series The Steppe and Beyond: Studies on Central Asia. Those interested are invited to submit a 500-words proposal to Jean-François Caron (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Hélène Thibault (email@example.com) by October 30, 2020. Scholars whose abstract will be accepted will then have until the Spring of 2021 to submit their final chapter.