Governance, Security, and Asymmetrical Warfare in Central Asia and the Middle East

Governance, Security, and Asymmetrical Warfare in Central Asia and the Middle East - Home

The Middle East and Central Asia have seen dramatic changes to the established order of governance within the region in the 21st century. The Arab Spring which represented a fundamental challenge to the prevailing order was largely quashed with many speculating a return to the authoritarian status quo. A prominent consequence of the Arab awakening is new conflicts between central governments and non-state actors. Post-Arab Spring Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen have all succumbed to conflicts and competing interests that have departed from the original aims of the Arab awakening. The evolving challenges to prevailing order is also a common theme for the Central Asian states, Afghanistan, Turkey and Iran. In Central Asia, we have witnessed insurgency and violence in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan challenging governments and their legitimacy. These have been exacerbated by inter-state tensions, competition for power and geopolitical interference from external players. 

Some of these conflicts have eroded the legitimacy of central governments given their brutal responses as well as their breach of the social contract. Alternatively, some non-state actors have assumed the responsibility of the states in providing strategies of survival for the people. This turmoil has brought unprecedented change to the region affecting social, political, military and gender spheres. Moreover, unconventional asymmetrical warfare is being developed to legitimize and solidify the establishment of these new structures. In Central Asia, the ongoing trajectories of post-Soviet transition within states and society have recently been complicated by an emerging new wave of violent radicalisation and extremism. Indigenous Islamic militant groups in Central Asia have forged ties with militant groups in Syria and Afghanistan. This has fuelled speculation on the consequences of their return to Central Asia, in particular to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. These new realities represent a significant departure from the long-held expectations about the evolutionary vector of the Middle East and Central Asia based on democratisation and decolonisation.

This conference seeks to bring together recent and cutting edge scholarship on the new realities emerging in the Middle East and Central Asia. It will prize interdisciplinarity in studying the interconnectedness of the emerging social, political, economic, and cultural structures. Moreover, it will discuss how international actors, including Australia, engage with these new trends. The fundamental aim of the conference is to seek practical knowledge and understanding of key issues in the Middle East and Central Asia in order to evaluate regional policies, military strategies, security concerns, gender roles and patterns of governance.

In addition to the conference, there will be a workshop and seminar to discuss theoretical and practical approaches to studying the Middle East chaired by the keynote speakers as well as additional experts.


Governance, Security, and Asymmetrical Warfare in Central Asia and the Middle East - Program

Conference workshops to be held on 20 November 2019

Workshop convenors:

Emmanuel Karagiannis works as an Associate Professor in King’s College London’s Department of Defence Studies. He was educated as a political scientist at the Universities of Pennsylvania (Post-doc), Hull (PhD), Reading (MA), and London South Bank (BA). Moreover, he held research positions in prestigious US and British universities (Yale University, Columbia University, Princeton University, London School of Economics, US Military Academy at West Point). During 2006-2011, he worked as an Investigator at the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. Since September 2013, he has been appointed by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe to act as an Expert in Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalization that Lead to Terrorism. In this capacity, he has been involved in several projects and educational initiatives in Central Asia.

Dr Karagiannis has published extensively on political Islam in the Middle East and the former Soviet Union. His latest book, titled The New Political Islam: Human Rights, Democracy and Justice, has been released by the University of Pennsylvania Press. He is also the author of Political Islam in Central Asia: The Challenge of Hizb ut-Tahrir (London: Routledge, 2010). His articles have appeared, among others, in Journal of North African Studies, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Terrorism and Political Violence, Journal of Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, Middle East Quarterly, Small Wars and Insurgencies, Contemporary Security Policy, Asian Security, European Security, Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict, Mediterranean Politics, Mediterranean Quarterly, Harvard Asia Quarterly, Europe-Asia Studies, Nationalities Papers, Central Asian Survey, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, and Journal of Balkans and Near Eastern Studies.
Dr Karagiannis has been interviewed and quoted by media outlets around the world, such as The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, BBC Radio, and Al Jazeera.  Moreover, he has been an active member of professional associations and academic networks in the UK and North America. Additionally, Dr Karagiannis has conducted fieldwork in Lebanon, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, and the Palestinian Territories (West Bank). Currently, he is on sabbatical at Oxford University’s Middle East Centre.

Inge Amundsen is a political scientist and senior researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) in Norway. Dr Amundsen is focussing on democratic institutionalisation, political economy, political corruption, parliaments, political parties, and natural resources (petroleum resources management and revenue management). He has authored extensively on several regions including Sub-Saharan Africa,  South Asia, and the Middle East. His research has been published in Party Politics, Comparative Politics, and Forum for Development Studies. Amundsen made his PhD in comparative African studies at the University of Tromsoe in 1997. He was Research Director at CMI from 2000-2003, Director of the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre from 2002-2006, and he has coordinated three CMI institutional cooperation programmes. CMI is an independent development research institute addressing issues that shape global developments and generate knowledge that can be used to fight poverty, advance human rights, and promote sustainable social development. Amundsen is the editor of the forthcoming book Extraction and Power Preservation: Political Corruption in Sub-Saharan Africa (Edward Elgar Publishers).




Governance, Security, and Asymmetrical Warfare in Central Asia and the Middle East - Call for papers
The 2019 CAIS 4th Biennial Early Career and Postgraduate Conference is primarily concerned with the area encompassing the Arab World, Central Asian states, Iran, Turkey, and Afghanistan. Other regions including the Caucasus, Pakistan, and Sub-Saharan Africa countries, are also included for their contemporary and historical interaction with the Middle East and Central Asia regions. We welcome submission from various backgrounds and disciplines. The Conference will be designed to accommodate a wide range of topics but will focus on issues pertaining to governance, security and asymmetrical warfare. In addition, the conference seeks to discuss how Australia can engage with these regions and evaluate Australia’s regional policies and security concerns.

We particularly encourage paper and panel submissions about topics that include, but not limited to:
-    Governance, state-building, and political change.
-    State’s legitimacy, decentralized governance, corruption, and transparency.
-    Regional security policies and military strategies, including issues of asymmetrical warfare.
-    Transnational insurgencies and violence.
-    Inter-state tensions and competition for power and influence.
-    Role of international actors in shaping security and governance outcomes.
-    Australia’s security and political strategies towards the Middle East and Central Asia.
-    Gender roles in governance and security.
-    Economic, social and political reforms.
-    Human and economic security.
-    Contemporary history of Central Asian and the Middle East.

Proposals for complete panels (of either three or four speakers) are very much welcomed. We particularly encourage panels which involve participants or collaborations with those working outside of academia. In addition, we warmly invite individual paper proposals on any topic related to Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies. Our aim is to foster dialogue between scholars studying the Middle East and Central Asia from all disciplines, forming dynamic panels in which these individual submissions can speak to one another in energising and fruitful ways.

Please note that paper abstracts must not exceed 250 words, and must be received by Wednesday 31 July 2019.
Paper submissions must be made online via this form:

If you wish to propose a panel, please do not use the above form. Instead, panel organisers should submit a Word document providing the panel title, a short summary of the panel theme, and the names, position titles, and institutions of your proposed presenters/panellists, along with their abstracts (if relevant). Please email the Word document directly to with “2019 Conference – panel proposal” in the subject line.

Important Dates:
-    Deadline for abstract or panel submissions: 31 July 2019.
-    Result of submissions: No later than 15 August 2019.
-    Registration opens: 1 September 2019.
-    Conference Dates: 20-22 November 2019.

-    20 November: Theoretical and practical approaches to studying and understanding the Middle East.
-    21-22 November: Full Conference.
-    Conference dinner: Thursday 21 November.

-    Student: $100 (3 day), $50 (1 day)
-    Full: $150 (3 day), $60 (1 day)
-    Conference dinner (optional): $40

The Conference organisers expect to offer a limited amount of funding for some presenters, consistent where possible with ANU benchmarks. Funding will be offered on a case by case basis to those presenting papers, and is at the discretion of the organisers. Funding will only be considered for all abstracts and papers submitted in a timely manner by Doctoral candidates.
For queries regarding the Conference, please contact us. Please note that abstracts submissions are only accepted via the following link:

More information about the conference will become available on this page, so please check back periodically.



You are not authorized to access this content.
Governance, Security, and Asymmetrical Warfare in Central Asia and the Middle East - Contact Us

Contact us by email:


Updated:  12 March 2019/Responsible Officer:  Centre Director/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications