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In recent years, a variety of efforts have been made in political science to enable, encourage, or require scholars to be more open and explicit about the bases of their empirical claims and, in turn, make those claims more readily evaluable by others. While qualitative scholars have long taken an interest in making their research open, reflexive, and systematic, the recent push for overarching transparency norms and requirements has provoked serious concern within qualitative research communities and raised fundamental questions about the meaning, value, costs, and intellectual relevance of transparency for qualitative inquiry. In this Perspectives Reflection, we crystallize the central findings of a three-year deliberative process—the Qualitative Transparency Deliberations (QTD)—involving hundreds of political scientists in a broad discussion of these issues. Following an overview of the process and the key insights that emerged, we present summaries of the QTD Working Groups’ final reports. Drawing on a series of public, online conversations that unfolded at www.qualtd.net, the reports unpack transparency’s promise, practicalities, risks, and limitations in relation to different qualitative methodologies, forms of evidence, and research contexts. Taken as a whole, these reports—the full versions of which can be found in the Supplementary Materials—offer practical guidance to scholars designing and implementing qualitative research, and to editors, reviewers, and funders seeking to develop criteria of evaluation that are appropriate—as understood by relevant research communities—to the forms of inquiry being assessed. We dedicate this Reflection to the memory of our coauthor and QTD working group leader Kendra Koivu.1
Those who study state policies toward sub-state national minorities typically focus on how responsive the state is to minorities that are already politically mobilized. This book is no exception; it follows a venerable tradition of examining groups that seek self-determination to consider the extent to which and the forms by which such groups are accommodated.
An already mobilized minority and degrees of state responsiveness are an important theoretical possibility, but one among many. States do more than react; they also act, sometimes decisively and with clear initiative and agency. When they do, their actions may be viewed as preceding, rather than following, the political mobilization of cultural groups.
If it is difficult to discern the empirical outlines of such proactive policies in some Asian cases, ex-Soviet Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan) brings them and their impact into sharp relief. The Leninist state in the Soviet Union sought – as a part of its ideological and coercive agenda – to be proactive in attending to minority groups, even in those regions where levels of nationalist mobilization were low, popular national identities were practically nonexistent, and local identities prevailed. In this chapter, I argue that these policies set in motion political processes that were ultimately beyond the ability of the Soviet state to control. Central Asia's political development since the Soviet collapse has been deeply conditioned by this Leninist legacy.
This chapter begins by addressing the blind spots in a literature that assumes that groups are already mobilized.
A primary mechanism of rule in soft authoritarian post-Soviet Kazakhstan was the regime's ability to monopolize the instruments of persuasion. By carefully crafting and propagating images of state and society, constructing political dramas, and developing plausible public narratives about the provision of public goods, Nursultan Nazarbaev continually outflanked his political opponents. And then came Borat, the Hollywood comedy that presented Kazakhstan as a racist, homophobic, misogynistic, economic, and political backwater. Not only were the images of this “Kazakhstan“ out of the regime's control, but the film's creator, Sacha Baron Cohen, went on the image-making offensive by conducting a variety of public dramas that further eroded the regime's image-making monopoly. This essay explores how the transnationalization of image-making creates new challenges for regimes intent on remaining soft authoritarian.
What role, if any, does kinship play in modern political life? Recent work in comparative politics has focused on a variety of informal relationships. It is striking that kinship has not received similar, sustained attention. The broad assumption of most theoretically-driven work is that kinship is the domain of the anthropologist; to the extent that political scientists consider kinship, they do so as something for modern institutions to overcome, as something in fundamental opposition to the state apparatus.