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Uzbekistan: From the Other Side

From left to right: Navbahor Imamova, Nicklas Norling, Dr. Sean Roberts and Dr. S. Frederick Starr speak at a forum on March 27 on the social basis of politics in Central Asia. (photo: Ashley Thompson)
The Uzbek Service’s Navbahor Imamova says she is used to being part of the audience at panel discussions and academic events -- pressing questions, probing and tweaking the experts. “I can be very annoying when I’m out there in the audience, but that’s my job as a journalist,” Imamova says.

Last Thursday the tables were turned, and she was one of the panelists being questioned at a forum on the social basis of politics in Central Asia, hosted by The Johns Hopkins University’s Central Asia - Caucasus Institute.

The institute’s director, Dr. S. Frederick Starr, was impressed with Imamova’s performance, calling it “superb, a real triumph.”

The forum focused on the effects of clans and regional elites throughout Central Asia. Imamova spoke about her personal experiences growing up on a collective farm during the Soviet era, as well as the role of informal, and often corrupt, local leaders in Central Asian societies today.

“As journalists, we inform the public, and we are able to learn about the world first-hand, Imamova says. “We hear, read and watch so much up close, but we don’t always get to report on everything we learn.”

Also participating in the forum were Sean Roberts, associate professor and director of George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs, and Nicklas Norling, research fellow and PhD candidate at The Johns Hopkins University.

The Uzbek Service covered the event (here) on its radio and television programs and website.