The Inevitable Conflict: The Soviet Delimitation of Central Asia, a Case Study of Northern Tajikistan


ACLS Fellowship Program


History and Comparative and International Studies


"The Inevitable Conflict" assesses the Soviet demarcation of Central Asia, focusing specifically on Tajikistan, spanning the period from the 1920s to the 1980s. In the 1920s, the Bolshevik regime delineated the boundaries of Central Asian regions and established new nations, including Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan. These newly formed states entered numerous treaties agreeing to share natural resources, particularly water. During the Soviet period, the central regime in Moscow ensured that these regions adhered to these formal, and sometimes informal, agreements. Today, the strain on these resources, exacerbated by climate change, and the arbitrary nature of border demarcation have led to recurring violent border conflicts. An example of this is the ongoing violent conflict between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. To address this issue, this project utilizes on the ground research in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Russia, drawing from previously untapped historical archival sources and conducting in-person interviews. This approach traces the history of the Soviet delimitation project and connects it to present day conflicts over water resources.