Governing Islam and Security in Tajikistan and Beyond: The Emergence of Transnational Authoritarian Security Governance
Lemon, Edward James
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Since 2002, the government of post-Soviet Tajikistan has deployed its security apparatus outside of the state’s territorial borders at least 49 times, intimidating, kidnapping and monitoring its citizens. I use the term transnational authoritarian security governance to refer to these border-spanning security practices. Although both secular and religious opponents to the government have been targeted, in this dissertation, I examine how the government of Tajikistan attempts to manage the threat from Islamic ‘extremism.’ I trace the emergence of the securitisation of Islam back to the Soviet Union, explore its consolidation in the years following independence in 1991, and how it has become operationalised in the form of transnational authoritarian security governance. I argue that the regulation of religious life in Tajikistan is based on an assertive form of secularism, which posits that religion is only safe if it is closely controlled by the state. In theorising transnational authoritarian security governance, I draw on the work of Michel Foucault. I argue that security governance is interwoven with relations of power. Governing Islamic ‘extremism’ in Tajikistan does not merely involve repressive life-taking sovereign power, it involves the moulding of obedient, secular subjects through disciplinary power and biopower. But as Foucault argues, where there is power, there is resistance. Those who are made subjects through security governance do have opportunities to resist it. Rather than being transformative and counterhegemonic, however, this resistance is momentary and anti-hegemonic. My findings are based on critical discourse analysis, a database of extraterritorial security incidents, semi-structured interviews, and extensive ethnographic fieldwork conducted between 2013 and 2015 in Tajikistan and Russia.
PhD in Politics