Book review: Luca Anceschi. (2020). Analyzing Kazakhstan’s Foreign Policy: Regime Neo-Eurasianism in the Nazarbayev Era

Date01 August 2021
Published date01 August 2021
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews 273
into an enriching conversation with one another. It also provides a welcome
riposte to prevailing depictions of Southeast Asia as either powerless to challenge
a rising China or as mere pawns in a great game between Beijing and Washington.
In doing so, this volume pushes back on the most cynical interpretations of the
region falling subserviently into Beijing’s sphere of influence, while simultaneously
challenging Washington’s dalliance with isolationism (p. 300).
Hunter S. Marston
Hunter S. Marston
Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs
Australian National University, Australia
Luca Anceschi. (2020). Analyzing Kazakhstan’s Foreign Policy: Regime
Neo-Eurasianism in the Nazarbayev Era. Routledge. 208 pp. ISBN:
DOI: 10.1177/23477970211017759
Luca Anceschi needs little introduction as a well-published scholar of Central
Asian affairs. His latest work, Analyzing Kazakhstan’s Foreign Policy: Regime
Neo-Eurasianism in the Nazarbayev Era, is a welcome addition to the existing
scholarship, focusing on the foreign policies of Central Asian states, such as
Turkmenistan (Anceschi, 2008), Uzbekistan (Fazendeiro, 2017) and Kyrgyzstan
(Toktomushev, 2018). Leveraging the conventional characterisation of Kazakhstan
as a Eurasian ‘bridge’ between Europe and Asia, the book deftly unpacks the
conceptualisation, evolution and operationalisation of Kazakhstan’s foreign
policy—which Anceschi terms regime neo-Eurasianism—during the tenure of the
country’s first post-Soviet President Nursultan A. Nazarbayev who, having
stepped down in 2019, is currently the Chairman ‘for life’ of the country’s Security
Council. Its central argument is that the Eurasian emphasis is a misnomer since
regime neo-Eurasianism was primarily about enhancing Nazarbayev’s legitimacy,
leadership and legacy.
The book unfolds over five chapters. Chapter 1 covers the pre-Eurasianist
period from 1991 to 1993 when Nazarbayev championed integration with the
post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States as a way to address the
economic and ethnic challenges facing a newly independent Kazakhstan. Chapter
2 unpacks the origins of regime neo-Eurasianism, the milestone event of which
was Nazarbayev’s 1994 speech at Moscow State University. It draws comparisons
between this concept and alternative Russian and Kazakh formulations of the
concept, and highlights that the domestic institutionalisation of the concept was
aligned with Nazarbayev’s power consolidation. Chapter 3 considers the interplay
between regime neo-Eurasianism and intra-Central Asian integration to suggest

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