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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.



Our Logo


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.



Caspiana Team


Nargis Kassenova

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

Cian Stryker is M.A. candidate at Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies and was the Program on Central Asia’s 2019-2020 Innovation Fellow. He was the project director for CASPIANA and performed a variety of tasks including the coordinating of research assistants’ work, generating sources, editing all content, and developing the website itself. Cian Stryker received a Bachelor’s of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh in Political Science and Russian, Eastern European Studies in 2019. His current research focus is on the development of digital surveillance within Central Asia, but he previously worked on Russian-speaking minority integration issues in Estonia and Kyrgyzstan. He also previously interned with the UN’s World Food Programme in Dushanbe, Tajikistan and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.



Feel free to contact our team at: Caspiana2021@gmail.com



Acknowledgments

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:

Zulfiyya Abdurahimova-Carberry

Chingiz Aidarov

Ylham Jorayev

Botir Kobilov

Cristopher Patvakanian

Khamza Sharifzoda

Ia Tserodze

Great colleagues at the Davis Center and Harvard Library who encouraged and helped us in all ways possible:

Maria Altamore

Carol Chiodo

Sarah Failla

Katie Genovese

Jeremy Guillette

Katrina Keegan

Kelly O’Neill

Svetlana Rukhelman

Hugh Truslow

Alexandra Vacroux


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.