Departing from the observation that very few ethnically motivated political mobilisation has occurred in post-Soviet Central Asia, the article examines the case of the Uzbek communities in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Building on the contribution of frame analysis, through an assessment of the role of cultural framing in the mobilisation process, M. Fumagalli endeavours to demonstrate that the most successful frames articulated by the élites led in both countries towards a non-confrontational path with the authorities. (Following the argument of D. P. Gorenburg ― Minority Ethnic Mobilisation in the Russian Federation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, 11 ―, frames are defined and understood as “interpretive schemes that condense and simplify a person’s experience by selectively highlighting and encoding certain situations, objects, events, and experiences.”)
After discussing the significance acquired by the framing theory in recent explanations of ethno-political mobilisation, the author provides a concise historical background of the case studies. He shows that several frames have competed for the attention of the Uzbek public in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan: the memory of earlier conflicts; autonomist and/or separatist frames; and nationalist frames, suggesting that more moderate frames have prevailed so far. Relocating the events of the past two decades since the clashes in Osh and Uzgen in1990, M. Fumagalli reminds us that the wave of uprisings from 1996 to 1998 in the northern part of Tajikistan owed more to power politics than to separatist bids. The prevalence of moderate frames is also pointed to the significance of the common Soviet legacy and the resonance of its discourse on internationalism and interethnic harmony. The article also contributes to an understanding of the internal heterogeneousness of the Uzbek community in both countries.