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Book Review: Clan Politics and Regime Transition in Central Asia. By Kathleen Collins (New York, Cambridge University Press, 2006)

Kamp, Marianne
The content of this work justifies its ambitious title. Collins analyzes both clan politics and regime transition in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, asserting that clans have become significant political forces in these newly independent states. A “clan pact” provided initial legitimacy and stability in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan after independence (1991), and the absence of such a pact led to instability and civil war in Tajikistan. In detailing the political changes of the 1990s, Collins argues that multiple factors led to authoritarian regimes, rather than democratization. But due to clan activities, such as domination of sectors of the economy and asset stripping, none of these regimes is strongly consolidated. Collins situates her argument that clan politics can be empirically analyzed, and must be evaluated as causal elements in regime trajectories, within broader literature on democratization. The chapters discussing the post-1990 period should be welcomed by all scholars of contemporary Central Asia for their detailed and comparative description of the politics of independence in these three republics.
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