Rising Powers and Conflict Management (2012–2016)


This research was supported by Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Project Grant ES/J013056/1. It is one of 12 projects in the Rising Powers and Interdependent Futures ESRC Network.

About the project

In a changing world order, a better understanding of the different ways that states try to manage violent conflict is increasingly important. This ESRC-funded project examines the divergent responses of Russia, China and the West to outbreaks of armed violence in post-Soviet Central Asia as well as exploring the local politics of managing conflict.


  • Dr John Heathershaw, Principal Investigator, University of Exeter
  • Dr David Lewis, Co-Investigator, University of Exeter
  • Dr Nick Megoran, Co-Investigator, Newcastle University
  • Ivan Campbell, Bernardo Mariani and colleagues, Co-Investigators, Saferworld

A total of 13 researchers and research assistants have contributed to the project and are acknowledged in publications or included as co-authors where this is possible on safety grounds. An international advisory board of seven persons includes persons from Central Asia Russia, China, the US and the UK, including ExCAS associate Anna Matveeva.

Selected publications

By John Heathershaw:

By David Lewis:

By Nick Megoran:

News and events

China’s Overseas Investments and the Coronavirus Crisis: Towards Benevolence or Profit?

This post originally appeared at https://pandemipolitics.net/uncategorized/owen The last week of March was a big day for economic news. While the IMF declared that the world economy was in a COVID-19 induced recession and Fitch credit rating agency downgraded the UK’s credit rating from AA to AA-, observers noted signs that the Chinese economy was beginning […]

The China – US Trade War and the Future of the Liberal Economic Order

The topic on every internationally minded Chinese person’s lips when in conversation with a Westerner appears to be the US-China trade war. The following text summarises my informal discussions over lunch and during walks, with friends and colleagues in Shanghai, on the reasons behind, and potential consequences of, growing economic tensions between the world’s two […]

Round Table on Eurasian Integration brings together scholars and policy-makers in St Petersburg

On 31st May and 1st June, Dr David Lewis and Dr Catherine Owen organised and presented at an international round table entitled ‘Eurasian Integration and Public Administration’ as part of the annual Forum on Public Administration organised by the St Petersburg branch of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA). The […]

How Postcolonial is Post-Western IR? Understanding the International Politics of Russia and Central Asia

Scholars of International Relations have called for the creation of a post-Western IR that reflects the global and local contexts of the declining power and legitimacy of the West. Based on interviews with Russian and Central Asian political, economic, and cultural elites, the talk explores the emergence in a particular region of a new global […]

Russia’s shift south

By David Lewis

As relations with the West soured during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s third term, Russia launched a ‘pivot to the East’, forging a far-reaching political alignment with China and promising development in Russia’s Far East regions. At the same time, Moscow turned south, rethinking ties with Pakistan and India, and developing a new role in Afghanistan. […]

Why Russia is back in Afghanistan

Three decades after a humiliating military defeat in Afghanistan, Russia has returned to the scene. This adds Afghanistan to a long list of hotspots – from Syria and Libya to Venezuelaand Ukraine – where Moscow’s low-cost, high-impact foreign policy is challenging the West. In Afghanistan, the Kremlin is covertly supporting the Taliban and other groups, and hosting regional talks with Pakistan, Iran and […]

CfP: Workshop on Rising Powers and State Transformation (London, November 2017)

Papers on Central Asia are encouraged. Funding is provided for successful applicants. —John Heathershaw The impact of “rising powers”, mostly from the global south, on the post-war, US-dominated, liberal world order is perhaps the most widely debated issue in contemporary International Relations. For many commentators, states like China, Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa will […]

Kemel Toktomushev, Kyrgyzstan: Regime Security and Foreign Policy (Routledge, 2017)

Congratulations to Kemel Toktomushev on his recently published book, Kyrgyzstan: Regime Security and Foreign Policy (Routledge, 2017), based on his PhD dissertation completed at the University of Exeter in 2014. Kemel’s book presents a comprehensive study of Kyrgyz foreign policy from the early 1990s to 2011. It addresses the question of how and to what […]

Event Report: Completion of Rising Powers and Conflict Management in Central Asia project (London, 13-14 July 2016)

On 13-14 July, 2016, we held closing events in London for the ESRC research project ‘Rising Powers and Conflict Management in Central Asia’.A one-day workshop at Chatham House entitled ‘Illiberal conflict management in Central Asia’ was held on 13 July, hosted by the Russia and Eurasia Programme with James Nixey and Lubica Pollakova.  A report […]

With Uzbekistan’s dictator dead, Russia seeks to extend its influence

This article originally appeared at The Conversation on September 9 and got 30,000 reads in the first few days. The death of Islam Karimov, a dictator who ran Uzbekistan since its creation a quarter-century ago, has kicked off a new round of geopolitical competition in Central Asia. Despite the rise of China in the region, Russia has […]

What are the Consequences of the South China Sea Dispute for Central Asia?

By Catherine Owen   At first glance, the two issues appear unconnected: in one, China and the US are engaging in diplomatic and military brinkmanship for influence in the South China Sea; in the other, Central Asian governments are embracing with open arms the Chinese vision for a 21st Century Silk Road across their territories. […]

What are Russia’s Grand Designs in Central Asia?

By David Lewis (This article was originally posted in The Conversation) While international attention has focused on Russian military operations in Ukraine and Syria, Moscow has also been involved in a flurry of diplomatic and security initiatives to address the growing instability in northern Afghanistan. But its moves to bolster regional security are more than just a […]

Debating China in Central Asia

Will China continue to defer to Russia in Central Asia’s international security relations? Revised: 2 November 2015 What kind of great power is China in Central Asia?  It was this question that animated our discussions in October as colleagues and new contacts of ExCAS gathered in Shanghai and London to discuss China’s emerging role in the region.  […]

US looks away as tyranny steals a march in Central Asia

This post originally appeared on FT.com’s Beyond Brics: http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2015/09/29/us-looks-away-as-tyranny-steals-a-march-in-central-asia/ Photocredit: David Trilling, Eurasianet.org Central Asian democracy was dealt another critical blow this month, in open defiance of Western efforts and engagement. It is clear that the United States and Western powers have abandoned political engagement in Central Asia in the face of a resurgent Russia […]

Tajikistan Faces Another Rebellion from Within

What does the Hoji Halim rebellion tell us about conflict management and the state in Central Asia? By John Heathershaw Photocredit: RFE/RL For three years, Nick Megoran, David Lewis, our partners at Saferworld, and I have been studying the management of minor armed conflicts in Central Asia under a project funded by the UK Economic […]

Workshop Report: New Perspectives on Conflict, Security and Peace in Eurasia

Between 3rd and 5th June, the OSCE Academy in Bishkek hosted an international conference organised jointly with UK-based researchers working on the ESRC-funded project Rising Powers and Conflict Management in Central Asia. The conference drew together panellists from cities around the world including Odessa, Tashkent, Florence, Bonn, Kabul, California, Tbilisi, Birmingham and Bishkek, each of […]

Call for Proposals: New Perspectives on Conflict, Security and Peace in Eurasia: A Two-Day Workshop

  DATE: 3-4 June 2015 VENUE: OSCE Academy, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, (in collaboration with the UK Economic and Social Research Council)   SYNOPSIS For more than 20 years, the Eurasian region has been subject to supposed ‘global models’ of conflict analysis and peace studies, in both academic and practical discourse, derived from other regions and ostensibly […]

Camelflage — Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and James Fabiani Hide Expensive Washington Lobbying Secrets

This is a re-post. The original article can be found here. Not every despotic and corrupt ruler of a former Soviet state is the target of US Government plots to overthrow him, not even those whose taste in interior decoration and jewellery is as awful as Victor Yanukovich’s, the ex-president of Ukraine. Emomali Rahmon (image), […]

John Heathershaw speaks at inaugural meeting of All-Party Parliamentary Group on Tajikistan

On 1 April 2014, John Heathershaw spoke at the inaugural meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Tajikistan at the Houses of Parliament. Heathershaw was the guest of the groups co-chairs Baroness Vivien Stern and Nigel Mills MP.  Also in attendance were the Ambassador of Tajikistan to the UK, the Ambassador of the UK  to Tajikistan […]

David Lewis speaks at Foreign and Commonwealth Office

On 7 March 2014, David Lewis spoke at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office seminar, ‘Afghanistan as a threat to Central Asia: myth or reality?’. Jos Boonstra from EU Central Asia Monitoring also spoke and Roy Allison from Oxford was discussant.  ExCAS members John Heathershaw and Anna Matveeva were also in attendance. It was generally agreed […]

Roy Allison speaks at Exeter on 26 February

1.00-2.30pm, Feb 26th Amory 115 Dr Roy Allison, University of Oxford, ‘Putin’s Eurasian Union: a divisive political project or a new impetus for regional coordination?’ Roy Allison is University Lecturer in the International Relations of Russia, Eastern Europe and Eurasia at St Antony’s college, University of Oxford.  He previously held a Readership in International Relations at the London School […]

Anna Matveeva speaks on the insecurities of border security regimes

Friday 24th January, 2-4 pm, Amory 143 Dr Anna Matveeva, Honorary Fellow, University of Exeter “Border Security or security of the Border: how border regimes contribute to instability and tensions in the Ferghana Valley” Anna Matveeva works both as an academic and a practitioner, specialising in conflict studies and developmental aspects of international peacebuilding. The geographical […]

Deputy Head of Mission of British Embassy in Dushanbe to speak at Exeter

Richard Wood, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, ‘The UK Government’s Building Stability Overseas Strategy’ Monday 13 January, 3.30-4.30pm Building:One Marchant Syndicate Room A Richard Wood is Deputy Head of Mission of the British Embassy in Tajikistan and the former FCO officer for the Building Stability Overseas Strategy (BSOS). He will speak about BSOS following its review by […]

Xi Jinping, Central Asia and Russia: Misguided Speculation over a New ‘Great Game’

Originally posted at: FutureForeignPolicy.com blog. Much attention has been paid to a series of visits undertaken by the new Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Central Asian republics last month. Notwithstanding the ostensible trade-orientated nature of the visits, speculation has run rife as to the political- as opposed to economic- implications of this in the form of a […]

Chatham House Workshop: Conflict Management in Central Asia

First workshop for the ESRC Research project, Rising Powers and Conflict Management in Central Asia, 10 September 2013, at Chatham House: http://www.chathamhouse.org/events/view/194201

Project launch: Rising Powers and Conflict Management

1.30-5.00pm Wednesday 13 March, 2013 University of Exeter, Amory 315 1.30-2.00pm.      John Heathershaw & Ivan Campbell, Welcome and introduction to the project. 2.00-3.15pm.      “How have Western powers and local governments differed in their approaches to conflict management in Central Asia since 1991? How might Western strategies change in the future?” Speakers: James Nixey, Russia and […]

Visit of HM Ambassador to Tajikistan, Robin Ord-Smith

DECEMBER 2012 7 Dec, VISIT OF HM AMBASSADOR TO TAJIKISTAN The British Ambassador will be at Exeter on 7 December to give a  talk and will also be happy to discuss an internship which is available there in January 2013. 9.15-9.30 Meet the Ambassador and chat about the internship  (Amory 106) 9.30-11.00 ‘The UK in Tajikistan’ […]