Caspiana: A Digital Toolbox for Students and Scholars of Central Asia and the South Caucasus website is a project created by Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies: Program on Central Asia. The idea to make this resource is the outcome of a lunch discussion with a lively group of graduate and undergraduate students of the Boston area. They noted the difficulty of finding up-to-date and credible local media outlets to follow, sources for statistics or legislation, and good language learning apps. We took this need seriously, and spent more than a year collecting data and designing the website.
Our website can be navigated both by country and by thematic section. It covers eight countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. There are four thematic sections: Media, Governance, Statistics, and Academic Resources. In the Media section you can find lists of media sources in local languages, Russian and English along with brief descriptions. For each country, we offer Recommended Sources, compiled on the basis of media credibility surveys conducted with selected experts (to whom we are most grateful!). The Governance section consists of lists and links to national official portals, international official portals, and legislative databases. The Statistics section features links to statistics and databases provided by governments, international organizations, and think tanks. Last, but not least, the Academic Resources section is a treasure-chest with lists of regional studies associations and conferences, study abroad options, language resources, digital projects, digital archives, GIS data, and journals.
The first goal of the project was to gather comprehensive sets of country-specific resources, with a particular emphasis on local ones. Achieving it would be impossible without a team of talented Research Assistants - young scholars fluent in the national languages and knowledgeable about the countries they collected data on. You can find their names in the Acknowledgements section.
The second goal was to create a user-friendly and visually-attractive website to hold our data. In meeting this challenge we were greatly helped by our colleagues and partners, whose names you can also find below.
Our project is in a pilot stage and we hope to improve and enhance it in the future. We welcome your recommendations on resources to be included into our database and ideas on new features. Please, submit them via the Contribute page.
The Caspiana logo design is inspired by the depiction of a mythical animal found across the realm of the ancient Khazar state. The Caspian sea was historically referred to in the region (and is still called in modern Azerbaijani, Persian, Turkmen and Turkish) as the Sea of the Khazars. The Khazars were a Turkic people who set up an empire and for centuries controlled the areas stretching from the Volga-Don steppes to the northern Caucasus. They learnt to coexist with the growing Islamic influence, as well as the world of Slavs. Similar to this mythical creature, Khazars were looking East and West, striding the sedentary and nomadic life, Turkic and non-Turkic worlds, Asia and Europe, Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
Nargis Kassenova is Senior Fellow/director of the Program on Central Asia at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies (Harvard University) and Associate Professor at the Department of International Relations and Regional Studies of KIMEP University (Almaty, Kazakhstan). She holds a PhD in International Cooperation Studies from the Graduate School of International Development, Nagoya University (Japan). Her areas of research include Central Asian politics and security, Eurasian geopolitics, China’s Belt and Road Initiative and governance in Central Asia, and history of state-making in Central Asia. Kassenova is a member of the Advisory Board of the Open Society Foundations (OSF) Eurasia Program, the Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) Europe and Central Asia Division, the UN High-level Advisory Board on Economic and Social Affairs, the Advisory Group of the EU Central Asia Monitoring (EUCAM) program, and the Academic Council of the European Neighbourhood Council (ENC). She is on the editorial boards of Central Asian Survey, Central Asian Affairs, and REGION: Regional Studies of Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia journals.
Cian Stryker graduated in 2021 with an M.A. in Regional Studies - Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia from Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. He was an Innovation Fellow for the Program on Central Asia and the project director for Caspiana. As project director, he performed a variety of tasks including the coordination of research assistants’ work, generation of sources, review of all content, and website development. He is broadly interested in the intersection of technology, foreign policy, and national security.
Feel free to contact our team at: Caspiana2021@gmail.com
This project would be impossible or poorer without the help and support of our colleague and partners.
Our wonderful Research Assistants who compiled many of the resources included in our project:
Great colleagues at the Davis Center and Harvard Library who encouraged and helped us in all ways possible:
We would also like to thank our extraordinary logo designer Zhar Zardykhan,
A dear friend of the Program David Trilling, who was instrumental in jumpstarting this project and generously shared his bookmarks with us,
And the hundreds of excellent experts on the countries of the region who spent their precious time participating in our media credibility surveys.