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We are a London-UK based group. Our interdisciplinary research network aims to showcase early career researchers working on Central Asia and its wider region. We believe in collective learning and have built a dedicated group of scholars since 2012 through doctoral workshops.  

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Central Asia


Network (LCARN)


An interdisciplinary network for early-career research on Central Asia and its wider region.





26 May 2021

Book Talks with Authors: Hamer and Anvil

Chair Dr Gül Berna Özcan 

Speaker: Prof Pamela Kyle Crossley



21 May 2021

Talk: Fresh Ph.D. Research on Nation Building in Afghanistan 

Chair Dr Harun Yilmaz 

Speaker: Dr Zeynep Tuba Sungur

Click here to watch on our YouTube channel



19 March 2021

Publishing books at Routledge Central Asia Research Forum Book Series 

Convened by Dr Gulzat Botoeva 

Speakers: Dorothea Schaefter, Senior Editor, Asian Studies & Dr Harun Yilmaz Academic Editor

Click here to watch on our YouTube channel



19 March 2021

Making space and time for writing a book 

Convened by Dr Gulzat Botoeva and Dr Diana Kudaibergenova 

Speaker: Dr Madeleine Reeves

Click here to watch on our YouTube channel



5 February 2021

The Ninth Annual Doctoral Research Workshop on Central Asia

The Social and Cultural Meaning of Money in Central Asia 

Convened by Dr Gulzat Botoeva and Dr Oybek Madiyev

Click here to watch on our YouTube channel

Click here for the programme



27 November 2020

Reflections on academic fundraising and grant writing - the art of getting there

Convened by Dr Gulzat Botoeva

Speaker:  Dr Abel Polese

Click here to watch on our YouTube channel.



30 October 2020

Writing from the South: Our subjects, our audience, ourselves

Convened by Dr Gulzat Botoeva and Sofya du Boulay (Omarova)

Speakers:  Dr Erica Marat, Associate Professor and Chair of the Regional and Analytical Studies Department, National Defence University



11 September 2020

How to pursue a successful PhD research

Convened by Dr Gulzat Botoeva

Speakers: Dr Zhanar Sekerbayeva and Dr Syinat Sultanalieva



25 January 2020

The Eighth Annual Doctoral Research Workshop on Central Asia

History and Historiography of Central Asia

Convened by Dr Harun Yilmaz and Dr Gai Jorayev

Review of the Workshop by CAAL at UCL



26 January 2019

The Seventh Annual Doctoral Research Workshop on Central Asia

Art and Culture – Actors or Representatives?

Convened by Dr Gül Berna Özcan, Dr Aliya de Tiesenhausen, Dr Gulzat Botoeva and Ms Rosa Vercoe (MA,  MSc)

Click here for the programme



27 January 2018

The Sixth Annual Doctoral Research Workshop on Central Asia

“Il/legal” and informal practices in the Eurasian region

Convened by Dr Gulzat Botoeva and Dr Gül Berna Özcan

Click here for the programme



28 January 2017

The Fifth Annual Doctoral Research Workshop on Central Asia

Central Asia’s Evolving Relations with China

Convened by Dr Gulzat Botoeva and Dr Gül Berna Özcan

Click here for the programme



30 January 2016

The Fourth Annual Doctoral Research Workshop on Central Asia

Reflections on post-Soviet Development in Central Asia: A Multi-disciplinary Perspective

Convened by Dr Gül Berna Özcan and Dr Gulzat Botoeva

Click here for the programme



24 January 2015

The Third Annual Doctoral Research Workshop on Central Asia

Publishing, Grants and Policy Engagement

Convened by Dr Gül Berna Özcan and Diana T. Kudaibergenova

Click here for the programme



25 January 2014

The Second Annual Doctoral Research Workshop on Central Asia

Social and Economic Development in Central Asia: Theory and Practice

Convened by Dr Gül Berna Özcan and Diana T. Kudaibergenova

Click here for the programme



24 November 2012

The First Annual Doctoral Research Workshop on Central Asia

Building Theories and Methodologies in the Third Decade 

Convened by Dr Gül Berna Özcan

Click here for the programme


We are a group of friends with a sincere passion for the Central Asian region, who have collaborated on academic workshops and linked social events for a decade.  Our hub is open to anyone interested in Central Asia who self-identifies as “Early-Career”.  This is a supportive, informal peer-to-peer network, promoting engagement and professional development. 


  • Connect early career researchers and PhD students with eminent scholars and practitioners through annual London-based thematic workshops and webinars.

  • Promote rigorous interdisciplinary and broad-ranging scholarship with a strong application of theory and methodologies, showcasing Central Asian themes to the broader academic community.

  • Contribute to academic capacity building in Central Asia and support economic development, social well-being and environmental justice agendas in the region.

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Dr Gulzat Botoeva, University of Roehampton, UK 

Personal website

Gulzat Botoeva is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Roehampton.  Her recent research project focuses on illegal gold mining in Kyrgyzstan, criminalisation and de-legitimation of mining protests. Her previous research project was focused on small-scale hashish harvesting in Kyrgyzstan. In general, Gulzat is interested in studying illegal and informal economies (drug production, illegal gold mining and illegal monies) in a post-Soviet context; mainly using qualitative research methods and ethnographies of crime. She has published with Theoretical Criminology, The International Journal of Drug Policy, and Central Asian Survey journals. She contributed a paper on local protests around gold mining in Kyrgyzstan to a forthcoming publication Central Asian World.

Sofya du Boulay



Sofya du Boulay is a Marie Curie Fellow and PhD candidate in Political Science at Oxford Brookes University. Her main research interests are related to the study of authoritarian regimes, including their political stability and legitimation in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Her research has been published in Problems of Post-Communism and Theorizing Central Asian Politics: The State, Ideology and Power (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019).

Dr Katherine Hughes


Personal website

Katherine Hughes is a museum professional and independent researcher focusing on the ontology of objects, critical heritage of museums and how monuments shape space around them. Her doctoral research focused on the feedback loop between Samanid material culture and how it was used to negotiate their identity, together with how the Samanids are referenced by Tajikistan’s identity programme today. She has written for Central Asian Survey and Cambridge Central Asia Reviews. She contributed a paper on Early Islamic carved wood in the National Museum of Tajikistan to a forthcoming publication, Tajiks: History, Religion, Culture and People

Dr Gai Jorayev, UCL, UK
Personal website

Gai Jorayev works at UCL Institute of Archaeology where he is a Degree Co-ordinator for MA in Managing Archaeological Sites and conducts research in two main areas: modern-day heritage management and digital heritage. His doctoral research focused on Nation-building and Heritage in Central Asia and he has previously worked on development initiatives with the EU and UN in the region. He recently carried out projects in post-Soviet space, Africa and European Union, and he currently collaborates closely with organisations such as UNESCO and UNWTO on Silk Roads related research and development projects.

Dr Oybek Madiyev, University of Kent, UK
Personal website

Oybek Madiyev is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the School of Politics and International Relations, University of Kent. His interdisciplinary research combines areas such as comparative political economy, political history, international relations, and international political economy. His recently published book titled Uzbekistan’s International Relations (Routledge, 2020) evaluates the country’s foreign policy and concentration of power since the end of the Soviet Union. 

Dr Gül Berna Özcan, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
Personal website

Gül Berna Özcan is a Reader in International Business and Entrepreneurship at Royal Holloway. Gül Berna investigates the spatial, moral and political character of the enterprise and business actors through an interdisciplinary approach in diverse settings. Her work on Central Asian entrepreneurship explores business growth patterns and how social stratification, ideological transformations and class relocation shape the development of post-Soviet businesses. In addition to numerous journal articles, her books include: Diverging Paths of Development in Central Asia (Ed. Routledge, 2017); Building States and Markets: Enterprise Development in Central Asia (Palgrave, 2010).

Rosa Vercoe, UCL, UK
Personal website

Rosa Vercoe works at UCL Institute for Global Health in an administrative role. She is an independent researcher of Central Asian dance and culture. Her articles were published by BBC Uzbek, Voices on Central Asia (a platform for scholars, authors, and journalists interested in Central Asia), Jahon News (Uzbekistan), CAAN (Central Asia Analytical Network). Rosa is also a co-Director of British-Uzbek Society based in London. She is responsible for organising cultural events and communications with members.

Dr Harun Yilmaz

Personal website

Harun Yilmaz is Central Asia Research Forum Series editor at Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. He is a regional expert on history, politics, national identities and political propaganda. His academic and popular publications cover Ukraine, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. He has published with Central Asian Survey, Iranian Studies, and Revolutionary Russia. His latest publication, entitled National Identities in Soviet Historiography: The Rise of Nations under Stalin (Routledge, 2015) covers Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. He is working on another book on the Soviet construction of modern national identities.


Botoeva, G. 2019 Multiple narratives of il/legality and im/morality: The case of small-scale hashish harvesting in Kyrgyzstan, Theoretical Criminology.  vol. 25, issue 2, 268-283.

Botoeva, G. 2019 Use of language in blurring the lines between legal and illegal, In: A. Polese, A. Russo, F. Strazzari, eds. Governance beyond the law: The Illegal, the immoral and the criminal. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Du Boulay, S and du Boulay, H. (2020), New Alphabets, Old Rules: Latinization, Legacy, and Liberation in Central Asia, Problems of Post-Communism, DOI: 10.1080/10758216.2020.1785315

Du Boulay S. and Isaacs R. (2019) Legitimacy and Legitimation in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan In: Isaacs R., Frigerio A. (eds) Theorizing Central Asian Politics, International Political Theory, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 17-41.

Du Boulay, S. (2019) Why Authoritarian Legitimation Matters? Around the Caspian Policy Paper, available online: http://caspianet.eu/2019/01/10/why-authoritarian-legitimation-matters/

Hughes, K. 2017 From the Achaemenids to Somoni: national identity and iconicity in the landscape of Dushanbe’s capitol complex in Central Asian Survey Volume 36, 2017 - Issue 4, Taylor & Francis  

Hughes, K.  2016 Sacred Trees: Pre-Islamic to Post-Soviet Ritual Imagery in the Upper Zarafshan Valley, Tajikistan In Cambridge Central Asia Reviews, 2016, Vol. 1, Issue 2, pp.1–12, Cambridge Scientific Publishers

Jorayev, G. 2020 Archaeology, Nationalism and Politics: The Need for Tourism. In D. J. Timothy & L. G. Tahan (eds) Archaeology and Tourism: Touring the Past, 186–204. Bristol: Channel View Publications 

Jorayev, G. A comparative study of the role of heritage in Post-Soviet Central Asian nation-building, forthcoming

Madiyev, O. 2021. The Eurasian Economic Union: Repaving Central Asia’s Road to Russia? Migration Information Source, February 03, 2021. Available Online

Madiyev, O. 2020 Uzbekistan’s International Relations, London: Routledge 

Madiyev, O. 2017 Why have China and Russia become Uzbekistan’s biggest energy partners? Exploring the role of exogenous and endogenous factors, Cambridge Journal of Eurasian Studies, Vol 1

Özcan, G.B. 2021 Entrepreneurial Growth Strategies in Central Asia: A Mid-Transition Typology of 4S, International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Vol. 42, Nos. 1/2.

Özcan, G.B. 2020 China’s Business in Central Asia: Power and Anxiety, Wilson Centre.

Özcan, G.B. Ed. 2017 Diverging Paths of Development in Central Asia, London: Routledge

Vercoe, R. 2019 How they met Tamara Khanum in London and the secret of Usto Olim Komilov’s turban, Voices on Central Asia, 22 October 2019

Vercoe, R. 2018 Saule Suleimenova: A Journey to Find True Kazakhness, Voices on Central Asia, 1 November 2018:

Vercoe, R. 2018 Uzbek Dance Art: Past and Present – In the Wake of Tashkent Encounters, Voices on Central Asia, 13 December 2018

Yilmaz, H. 2015 National Identities in Soviet Historiography: The rise of nations under Stalin, London and New York: Routledge

Yilmaz, H. 2014 The Rise of Red Kurdistan, Iranian Studies: Journal of the International Society for Iranian Studies, 47(6):799-822.

Yilmaz, H. 2012 History writing as agitation and propaganda: Kazakh history book of 1943, Central Asian Survey, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp.409-423.