Reviews

The author set foot in Turkmenistan for the first time in early 2008. Since then he has published three books on this isolated and poorly accessible country. This one looks more like a general handbook or dictionary on Turkmenistan, including every kind of practical information: Through its fourteen chapters the author reviews the country’s geography, political life, media development, society life, economy and state symbols like the Akhal Teke horse. Although it could be easily criticised for being too general and a hotchpotch of varied information, the volume has the virtue of being a good synthesis of the available research works about Turkmenistan. As far as ethnography is concerned, for instance, the author has successfully synthesised among others the ideas of Lomakin, the greatest Russian scientist who published in 1897 a precious study of Turkmen society, and the works by Adrienne Lynn Edgar, the author of one of the subtlest to date analyses of the Turkmen tribal system. Besides, the book also provides a sophisticated analysis of Turkmenistan’s political system and politics since independence. It notably shows, through a number of examples, that all signs of break with the regime of Saparmurad ‘Turkmenbashi’ Niyazov given by his successor Qurbanguli Berdymuhammedov are pure propaganda. Whereas it is too early to say, the author believes that the real innovating scheme of the new regime could be the new president’s foreign policy.

Bayram Balci, Centre for International Research and Studies, Paris
CER: II-2.2-74