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Panel on 'Industries, economic planning, and development paths in the Central Asian Republics (1970-1990s)'

When Jun 28, 2019
from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM
Where Room 10, University of Exeter
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Panel - MH5: Industries, economic planning, and development paths in the Central Asian Republics (1970-1990s)

Chair: Siddharth Saxena (University of Cambridge)

Discussant: Willem Vogelsang (University of Regensburg)

Isaac McKean Scarborough (Liverpool John Moores University): Industrialization as the Highest Form of Equalization

This paper evaluates the Soviet economic policy of “equalization” based on its application in the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic (Tajik SSR) during the long 1970s of the Brezhnev era (1964-1982). Long an established element of Soviet economic development in its internal periphery, the policy of “equalization” dictated higher than average per-capita rates of investiture in Central Asia in an attempt to “equalize” regional economic outcomes. While frequently dismissed in Western literature as little more than lip service or simply wasted rubles, the historical record in fact shows that equalization was both an important element of Soviet policy and a driver of economic change in Central Asia.

Using macroeconomic data as well as archival, memoir, and oral history sources, this paper will demonstrate how equalization underwrote Tajikistan’s economic development in the latter decades of Soviet history.With Soviet bureaucrats and planners invested in improving local economic outcomes, per-capita rates of investiture were much higher than the Soviet average, and each year hundreds of millions of rubles were spent boosting local industrial capacity and output. At the same time, as this paper will show, the Soviet policy of equalization was never able to reach its apex of planned industrialization in Tajikistan. Even 33 as the USSR collapsed, the republic remained overwhelmingly agrarian, problematizing the Soviet Union’s clearly delineated path through equalization to industrial socialist society.

Keywords: economic policies, industrialization, late Soviet Tajikistan

Irina Morozova (University of Regensburg): The history of oil industry of Atyrau (Guriev) in the light of post-colonial debates on development paths, 1980-1990s

Based on the available Soviet archival sources, this research is on history of oil industry in/around the Kazakhstani city Atyrau (before 1991 Guriev) located in the North-Eastern Caspian Basin. The paper studies how the development of oil industry was connected to the debates on economic patterns in the USSR, the ideological change and post-colonial rhetoric by Kazakhstani leadership through the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s. The paper presents an excurse into the history of the city as the Soviet project of Modernity and analyses the correlation between the debate on resource dependency in the USSR and the exploration for oil around Guriev. Above all, this research pioneers to discuss the explosion at the well No. 37 of the Tengiz oil field in 1985-1986, its ecological consequences and economic and political implications. While the current scholarship assumes that the plans for developing Tengiz oil field spurred ahead the competition between the central Soviet, republican and local Kazakhstani nomenklatura, there has been little study on the topic. This paper discusses Nazarbayev-Gorbachev relationships vis-à-vis the plans to develop Tengiz and the first entry negotiations by foreign companies in Soviet Kazakhstan and argues that these factors (beyond the December events of 1986) determined conservative policies by Kazakhstani nomenklatura during perestroika. Finally, while pointing out the Kazakhstani leadership’s concerns about the hydrocarbon resources and industries in Western Kazakhstan at the time of the USSR’s disintegration, the paper reflects on the current political and economic status-quo of Atyrau as the ‘oil capital of Kazakhstan’.

Keywords: oil industry in Kazkahstan, post-colonialism