Matters of State: Uzbekistan at a Crossroads – A short American foreign policy podcast from 2016, right after the death of longtime president Islam Karimov. They take a brief look at Uzbekistan’s political history under Karimov, where the country may go from there (we now know the new president has made some steps towards reform and improving human rights), and a look at where Uzbekistan sits geopolitically with its neighbours and with larger powers like Russia and China.
BBC – Uzbekistan: The Country of a Hundred Shrines – Uzbek journalist Rustam Qobil, who reports for the BBC across Central Asia, returns to Uzbekistan for the first time in many years to report on religious revival as part of the country’s larger reforms since 2016. He speaks with Islamic students about the Uzbek tradition of shrines, which has both pre-Islamic and Sufi roots, visits the tomb of Daniel (one of several, this one connected with Timur/Tamerlane) and comments on the increased openness and freedom to participate in religion compared to the Soviet and Karimov eras. He also briefly connects how the Mirziyoyev government is supporting a return to religion, specifically moderate Islam and syncretic Uzbek traditions, as a way to head off the growth of religious extremism. An article based off the podcast with pictures is here.
RNZ Kitchen Stories: Hanifa and Nilufar cook Uzbek food – From New Zealand’s public broadcaster, an interview with Nilufar Allayarova and her daughter Hanifa Kodirova, on emigrating from Uzbekistan to New Zealand and Uzbek cuisine. Also included are their family recipes for Uzbek plov, manti, and samsa. If you’re interested in plov, check out my my attempt!
BBC: Lost Stories From Uzbekistan – Another BBC Uzbek journalist, Ibrat Safo, covers how Stalin’s purges in the 1930s affected Uzbekistan, and how a chance meeting with a professor in Tashkent helped Safo find out his own family history – including about family members that had disappeared in the purges.
SRB Podcast: Islam Karimov’s Uzbekistan – A discussion from 2015 with an expert on Uzbekistan about the then-current political situation in Karimov’s declining years (he would die the next year), the political history of Uzbekistan post-USSR and the power struggles happening around who would succeed Karimov. A lot of the episode’s predictions have come true in the last six years, including Uzbekistan’s careful balance between the US, China, and Russia – a position not always in its control – and its role as an Islamic country fighting against Islamic fundamentalism.