ESCAS2019 conference


The European Society for Central Asian Society (ESCAS) began in 1985 with a small conference at Utrecht University and has continued since with biennial conferences in a dozen European cities and more recently, in Central Asia too. Its focus is on building scholarly links and support between Europe and Central Asia. ESCAS seeks to support the study of Central Asia — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and adjacent regions of the Caucasus, Russia, China, Afghanistan and Iran. We encourage conference papers and panels that offer cross-regional or comparative analyses of the Central Asia with its neighbouring regions of Asia and Eurasia.

The five preceding conferences were held at

  • American University of Central Asia (2017, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan),
  • University of Zürich (2015, Zürich, Switzerland),
  • Nazarbayev University (2013, Astana, Kazakhstan)
  • University of Cambridge (2011, Cambridge, UK)
  • Central European University (2009, Budapest, Hungary)

For more information: go to

ESCAS2019 Exeter: The Globality of Central Asia

Held at the University of Exeter (UK), the theme for the 16th ESCAS conference was The Globality of Central Asia. We invited proposals for papers, panels, roundtables, and sessions in non-traditional formats covering all aspects of Central Asian Studies across the humanities and social sciences. We particularly encouraged proposals which link Central Asia to its global context, historically and contemporaneously. We encouraged studies of this geography which engage both territory, space and place. These might include the studies of Central Asia’s migrations and diaspora, its ethnic minority populations, its offshore and extraterritorial spaces, and its place in global and imperial histories. This globality may be visible in archaeologies, cultural studies and pre-modern histories, as well as in modern social, economic and political patterns across borders. Our conference assessed globalizations from below as well as those from above; we therefore invited papers addressing the interpellation of localities and globalities: How are the individuals and communities of Central Asia related to global processes?

ESCAS2019 Conference Committee

The Joint Conference Committee was composed of local University of Exeter members and ESCAS as follows:

  • Shioya Akifumi, ESCAS Board / Tsukuba University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Gulzat Botoeva, University of Roehampton, Department of Social Sciences
  • Juliette Cleuziou, ESCAS Board / University Lumières — Lyon 2, Department of Anthropology
  • Asel Doolotkeldieva, Kyrgyz-Turkish Manas University, Department of International Relations
  • John Heathershaw, Chair of committee, ESCAS Board / University of Exeter, Department of Politics
  • Ablet Kamalov, ESCAS Board / Turan University, Department of History
  • David Lewis, University of Exeter, Department of Politics
  • Emma Loosely, University of Exeter, Department of Theology and Religion
  • Beatrice Penati, ESCAS Board / University of Liverpool, Department of History
  • Dina Sharipova, ESCAS Board / KIMEP, Department of Economics

The committee members could be contacted through the local Conference Administrator, Chee Wong, at

Conference panels and presentation formats

Until 20 November 2018 proposals were accepted, and then assessed by relevant and experienced reviewers. The accepted presentations had a variety of formats, and although the vast majority was in English some were in Russian.

Panels were each 90 minutes long to enable longer breaks in between.  We asked that panel chairs ensure that a minimum of 30 minutes is allowed for discussion following the presentations, which should therefore last no longer than one hour.  However, within these limited guidelines we asked the panel chair and participants to agree timings and format among themselves, in advance of the panel.

  • Chairs were required to ensure that each presenter is afforded equal time to speak and that the audience is allowed good time (a minimum of 30 minutes) to participate in discussions. They had to also ensure the panel started on time and that the room was clear 15 minutes before the next panel took place.
  • Discussants were optional in panels if the chair and participants prefered. They were not recommended for panels with 5 papers.  If there was no discussant and less than 3 papers on a panel, the chair could comment on the paper and ask question if they desired.
  • On traditional panels, paper-presenters typically spoke for 10-20 minutes depending on the number of papers and whether there were discussants. For example, a panel with five papers may have had 5 x 12 minute presentations, allowing the minimum of 30 minutes for the audience.  A panel with two papers and a discussant may have 2 x 20-minute presentations and ten minutes for the discussant, allowing up to 40 minutes for the audience.
  • Panels were not recorded by the conference or university. If an individual wanted to record a panel on a device they had to request this from the whole of the panel, who were free not to give permission.  If permission were granted by all panellists, the chair of the panel should have announced to the audience that the session was being recorded, before the panel begins.
  • Papers had to be distributed to fellow panellists in advance of the conference.
  • Paper authors who were not present at the conference had been omitted from the programme to avoid confusion; presenters should acknowledge (absent or present) co-authors in their presentations.

Conference venue and accommodation

As a leading UK research-intensive university with an active Central Asian Studies programme, the University of Exeter was chosen to host this edition of the ESCAS conference. The conference venue is the Forum, an ambitous modern building in the heart of the leafy Streatham Campus, and attendees can get a special rate for accommodation at Holland Hall.

Special events and receptions

The keynote speaker Professor Nicola di Cosmo (Princeton) addressed the conference theme of the Globality of Central Asia with his lecture entitled ‘Central Eurasia in Late Antiquity and the Early Medieval Period: Towards an Integrated View’.

The plenary roundtable addressed the topic of ‘International Cooperation and Academic Freedom in Central Asian Studies’ and was composed equally of scholars based in Central Asia and from beyond the region.

Our cultural presentation addressed the question whether ‘Is world literature a homeland for Central Asian writers, or are they its migrants and refugees?’ and included literature and music, and featured the author and journalist Hamid Ismailov as well as the musician and musicologist Dr Razia Sultanova.

The first day of the conference was concluded with a reception with wine, soft drinks and canapes, while on the second night there was a conference dinner. The conference fee included participation in all events.

Conference programme

The final conference programme (including last-minute changes) can be found here (1MB PDF).

Membership and Registration

ESCAS Membership

All speakers at ESCAS conferences are required to be members of ESCAS.

Memberships are lifelong valid, and give you reduced conference registration fees for this and subsequent ESCAS conferences. This lifetime membership fee depends on your citizenship:

  • Standard rate €100 for most nationalities,
  • Special rate €50 for citizens of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

More information about membership benefits on the ESCAS website.


The ESCAS conference registration fee included the conference dinner on the 28th, a delegate pack, the drinks reception, lunches, and coffee and tea during the breaks at the conference. The registration booking confirmation/receipt was automatically emailed following payment through the online store.

Registration fees

for ESCAS member:£220
for non-ESCAS member:£250
for student or Central Asian citizen:£140

Cancellations were not refunded after the Early Bird deadline (May 6) has passed. Up to then, registrations were at reduced tariffs of £180/£205/£140 for respectively ESCAS members/non-members/Central Asian citizens.

Become a lifelong ESCAS member for a one-time fee, and benefit forever from reduced fees for the biennial conferences: Register for ESCAS membership

Available travel funding

Some fully-funded places were available to Central Asian participants and have been awarded based on the excellence of their proposals and fit to the themes of the conference (for more details see here), where applications were filed by mid-February. The applicants have been contacted, highest-ranked first, as far as the budget stretches; when some could not take up the funding (because of other practical reasons) the funding was offered to the next in line.

Visa requirements and invitation letters

Many Central Asian participants required a ‘Letter of Invitation’ to support their visa application. Such letters were provided by the Conference Administrator on request.

The best place to check visa requirements to the UK is: When travelling for ESCAS2019, you would be on an “Academic visit” (to “for example, attend a conference”; not “to work as an expert”, because that would mean you’d get paid in the UK, and it becomes an issue whether you are allowed to work for a specific kind of job).

Note that it doesn’t matter so much where you’re traveling from or where you live, what matters is what nationality passport you have (for dual nationality, see which is easiest, then make sure you travel on that passport and that it has at least say six months remaining validity at the start of the conference).