The Newsletter 70 Spring 2015

The geopoliticization of Central Asian scholarship

Alexander Cooley

On 16 June 2014 Alexander Sodiqov, a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto, was taken into custody by Tajik security services while conducting a field interview for a research project on local responses to conflict management. Sodiqov was reportedly accused of treason and espionage – crimes that carry a possible 20 years prison sentence. On 22 July, Sodiqov was released from prison and his case was taken up by an international coalition of scholars, human rights activists and press freedom watchdogs, who viewed his detention as a fundamental infringement on academic freedom in Central Asia. After sustained international pressure, Sodiqov was allowed to return to Toronto in September, with the case still legally open.