Public Lecture: Mechanisms for Power Retention in Turkmenistan
May 2017, 16:00
Dr Hendrik Meurs
Senior Scientific Officer
Ministry for Education and Research, Germany
In his lecture, Dr Hendrik Meurs analyses how the Turkmenistan government frames its legitimacy to maintain power. This presentation is delivered in five parts: the system of power maintenance, economic foundations of this system, the ongoing nation-building process, cult of personality around Turkmenistan’s Presidents and the monumental reshaping of the country’s capital. The analysis is presented as a thick geographic description, based on insights, gained during sustained research trips over a period of several years.
The current government applies methods and mechanisms that have already been well established in other thoroughly authoritarian systems. Meanwhile a steady influx of hard currency, derived from the export of natural gas, constitutes the economic foundation, the system is built upon.
Lacking alternatives, the Turkmen President tries to legitimise both the President’s position and his personal right to rule from Turkmen culture and history as well as his origin and qualifications. In apotheosis, the President is shown as a nearly superhuman personification of both, nation and state. Understood as indispensable prerequisite for the presidential claim to power, in parallel to a visually impressive cult of personality, an equally impressive nation-building-programme has been launched.
Among the most striking measures undertaken by the government is the thorough reshaping especially of the capital Ashgabat in an exceptionally monumental style, aimed at demonstrating the boundless might of those in power while supporting the cult of personality and the nation-building.
Dr Hendrik Meurs received his PhD in natural sciences from the University of Heidelberg, Germany in 2014 on the subject of Mechanisms of Power Retention and Staging of Legitimacy in Turkmenistan.
Funded by the German DAAD and the Kurt-Hiehle-Foundation as well as on behalf of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and GtZ/GIZ over the course of his studies he conducted several long-term and a long list of short-term research visits to all countries of the Southern Caucasus and Central Asia –focusing especially on Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
In 2014 Dr Hendrik Meurs became a Senior Scientific Officer at the International Bureau – the Project Management Agency for European and International Cooperation under the umbrella organisation of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), working both, on behalf of the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) and within various EU-Projects. His regional focus is on the five countries of Central Asia and the three countries of the Southern Caucasus. Since 2015 he supports the BMBF in developing the dialogue on scientific cooperation and developments within the G7 and G20 processes.
University of Central Asia
138 Toktogul Street
Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic
2nd Floor Conference Room
The presentation will be conducted in English.
* Ideas presented in this lecture reflect the personal opinion of the speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Central Asia and/or its employees.