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Předmět, akademický rok 2023/2024
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Current Central Asia: building autocracy for the 21st century - JTM524
Anglický název: Current Central Asia: building autocracy for the 21st century
Český název: x
Zajišťuje: Katedra ruských a východoevropských studií (23-KRVS)
Fakulta: Fakulta sociálních věd
Platnost: od 2023
Semestr: letní
E-Kredity: 6
Způsob provedení zkoušky: letní s.:
Rozsah, examinace: letní s.:1/1, Zk [HT]
Počet míst: 15 / neurčen (15)
Minimální obsazenost: neomezen
4EU+: ne
Virtuální mobilita / počet míst pro virtuální mobilitu: ne
Stav předmětu: vyučován
Jazyk výuky: angličtina
Způsob výuky: prezenční
Způsob výuky: prezenční
Poznámka: předmět je možno zapsat mimo plán
povolen pro zápis po webu
při zápisu přednost, je-li ve stud. plánu
Garant: Mgr. Anna Jordanová
Vyučující: Mgr. Anna Jordanová
Třída: Courses for incoming students
Anotace - angličtina
Poslední úprava: Mgr. Anna Jordanová (23.01.2024)
The course provides students a solid understanding of the key theoretical concepts related to the contemporary autocratic regimes. In accordance with the current academic debate, participants will be able to effectively apply these concepts on practical empirical cases from non-democratic contexts. Most of the empirical material provided by the lecturer will be related to Central Asia, however, students are welcome to bring and present their own data from other regions of their interest. The course is especially relevant to students considering writing their final thesis on autocratic affairs in the contemporary politics.
Cíl předmětu - angličtina
Poslední úprava: Mgr. Anna Jordanová (23.01.2024)

The students will gain a more profound understanding of the essential features of autocratic regimes in the contemporary political environment, especially those related to their internal dynamics, role the key internal actors and groups (including the usefulness of various typologies), context-based strategies of elites’ survival and the regimes’ standing in the globalized world. The emphasis will be put on practical use and applicability of specific examples most relevant in the contemporary political science and IR, rather than on all-encompassing and deep political science discussion. Students will be also offered experimental exercises in order to practice their understanding of the topic.

Among the transferable skills, students will gain capacity for logical inference, analytical thinking and generalization corresponding with the master’s level. In the learning process, students are expected to sharpen their skills in conducting the discussion, delivering a presentation and drafting a piece in argumentative writing. Students should behave cooperatively and be mutually supportive to achieve these skills (especially the former two).

Podmínky zakončení předmětu - angličtina
Poslední úprava: Bc. Sára Lochmanová (31.01.2024)

40% Presentation during the seminar: Application of the key theoretical concept to an empirical material. Each student is expected to share a summary of key points of his/her presentation at least 48 hours in advance. 

40% In-class activity: Students are expected to a) provide feedback to their peers during the seminar b) provide a written summary (2-3 paragraphs) of the assigned literature before each of the seven lectures.  

20% Final report: A short piece summarizing the student’s remarks on the literature, in-class debates and feedback to his/her presentation.

More in SMĚRNICE S_SO_002: Organizace zkouškových termínů, kontrol studia a užívání klasifikace A–F na FSV UK.

Literatura - angličtina
Poslední úprava: Bc. Sára Lochmanová (31.01.2024)

Via syllabus.

Metody výuky - angličtina
Poslední úprava: Mgr. Anna Jordanová (20.02.2024)

The course is a combination of lectures and seminars based on essential readings and in-class debate. The first half of the semester consists of lectures introducing key theoretical concepts related to internal dynamics of autocratic regimes, especially survival options of their elites, agenda of specific intra-regime groups and perspectives for long-term stability. In the second half of the semester, the students will apply these theoretical concepts to practical empirical issues and present their analysis to their classmates for discussion. The course does not focus on the normative aspect of democracy or autocracy promotion.

Due to the scheduled stay abroad, the lectures will be delivered online (via Zoom). No need to come to the classroom at that time; it won't be opened anyway.

Zoom link (the same for all online meetings): https://cuni-cz.zoom.us/j/96723941637

The seminars will take place exclusively in-person at Jinonice Campus and students’ presence is mandatory with one absence allowed.

The sufficient command of English is necessary.
All readings are available through the UK FSV library or online databases.

Sylabus - angličtina
Poslední úprava: Mgr. Anna Jordanová (03.04.2024)


Outline of the course and research interests of the students. Calibration to previous knowledge of the students. Is autocracy becoming a “new normal”, or has always been?

2.     26/2 Defining and typologizing autocracies. People within.

The central goal of all autocratic regimes remains the same: to monopolize political power and to preserve it. And people in power want to stay there, usually at all costs. Yet – how do autocracies work from within and who are the key groups ruling them? 

Key topics: Typology: what autocracies and what leaders?? Winning Coalition, Selectorate and the others. Patronalism and neo-patrimonialism in particular. System vs. Regime.

- de Mesquita, Bruce Bueno, et al. (2004) The Logic of Political Survival. Chapter 2. The MIT Press. 

At least one of the following:

Isaacs, Rico and Frigerio, Alessandro. Theorizing Central Asian Politics: The State, Ideology and Power. Palgrave, 2019. PAGE
Hanson, S. E. and Kopstein, J. S. (2022) “Understanding the Global Patrimonial Wave,” Perspectives on Politics. Cambridge University Press, 20(1), pp. 237–249.
Hale, H. E. (2014) Patronal Politics: Eurasian Regime Dynamics in Comparative Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Problems of International Politics). Chapters 5 and 11.

Example of good application: Lee, Hanhee. Analyzing the political survival prospects of Kim Jong-un’s North  Korean regime through the framework of selectorate theory. Japanese Journal of Political Science (2018), 19, 474–488.

3.     4/3 Transfer of power and subsequent regime consolidation.

As long as autocracies are ruled by mortal people, occasional changes at positions of power are necessary. While in democracies the mechanism and timing are guaranteed and enforced by constitution and courts, in autocracies there are much more diverse ways, stretching from installing a hand-picked successor over collective decision-making to an all-in scramble for power.  The winner takes (almost) all; what happens to the losers?

Key topics: transition of office vs. transition of power. Dilemma of hereditary grooming. De-personalization.

- Acemoglu, A. & Robinson, J. A. (2001) A theory of political transitions. The American Economic Review, 91(4), 938-963.      

At least one of the following:
Anceschi, Luca. After Personalism: Rethinking Power Transfers in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Journal of contemporary Asia, 2021, 51(4), pp.660-680.
Brownlee, Jason. Hereditary succession in modern autocracies. World Politics, Volume 59, Number 4, July 2007, pp. 595-628.
Gillespie, Kate, and Gwenn Okruhlik. “The Political Dimensions of Corruption Cleanups: A Framework for Analysis.” Comparative Politics 24, no. 1 (1991): 77–95.
Kendall-Taylor, A., & Frantz, E. (2016). When dictators die. Journal of Democracy, 27(4), 159-171.


4.     11/3 Autocratic solidarity and cooperation

Autocratic rulers by definition do not like independent institutional restraints and do not willingly share their power with other actors. However, usually they have to cooperate or at least coexist in order to keep their economies afloat and their regimes safe. And, if they see fitting, they can even work closely together. What are the main incentives and what are the main obstacles?

Key topics: International institutions and informal clubs. Inter-dependence and cooperation.  

Tansey, O., Koehler, K., & Schmotz, A. (2017). Ties to the Rest: Autocratic Linkages and Regime Survival. Comparative Political Studies, 50(9), 1221-1254
Poujol, Catherine. International Relations in Central Asia: A Focus on Foreign Policies (1991-2020). In: Jeroen Van den Bosch, Adrien Fauve, Bruno De Cordier (eds.) The European Handbook of Central Asian Studies History, Politics, and Societies. EISCAS, ibidem-Verlag, Stuttgart 2021.

Allison, Roy, 2018. Protective Integration and Security Policy Coordination: Comparing the SCO and CSTO. The Chinese journal of international politics, 11(3), pp.297-338.

5.     18/3 How long do autocracies last and how do they collapse?

Some autocracies collapse or transform shortly after their emergence, other manage to outlast generations. The same goes for people: some leaders stay in office for decades, even if their performance is poor, while some fall sooner than even expected. What factors lead to longevity of non-democratic regimes? 

Key topics: longevity, durability, resilience. Challenges from within and from the outside.


Geddes, B., Wright, J., & Frantz, E. (2014). Autocratic breakdown and regime transitions: A new data set. Perspectives on politics, 12(2), 313-331.
Hale, H. E. (2014) Patronal Politics: Eurasian Regime Dynamics in Comparative Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Problems of International Politics). Chapter 7 (the Kyrygyzstan part) and chapter 8 (241-248)

Abel Polese, Donnacha Ó Beacháin & Slavomír Horák (2017) Strategies of legitimation in Central Asia: regime durability in Turkmenistan, Contemporary Politics, 23:4, 427-445.
Gel’man, Vladimir. (2022). The Politics of Bad Governance in Contemporary Russia. Chapters 1-2). University of Michigan Press.
Levitsky, S., & Way, L. (2013). The durability of revolutionary regimes. Journal of Democracy, 24(3), 5-17.


6.     25/3 Follow the money: From resource curse to kleptocracy

How comes states with abundant natural resources appear often have the most severe corruption challenges and inequality of wealth distribution? Why some of them (like Norway) do not? What is the relationship between rent-based economies and autocratic governance? And what role does the western financial institutions play in sustaining and supporting kleptocratic rulers across the world?

Key topics: economics of autocracy. Good and bad governance, kleptocracy, rents.

Anceschi, Luca and Schwab, Julia. Facing the Soviet Legacy: Political Economy and Development Patterns in Central Asia. In: Jeroen Van den Bosch, Adrien Fauve, Bruno De Cordier (eds.) The European Handbook of Central Asian Studies History, Politics, and Societies. EISCAS, ibidem-Verlag, Stuttgart 2021. (a quick overview, no need to write summary of this)
Sanghera, Balihar and Satybaldieva, Elmira. The Rise of the Rentier Class and Widening Social Inequalities. In: Rentier Capitalism and Its Discontents: Power, Morality and Resistance in Central Asia. Palgrave, 2021.

·       Recommended if interested: Bullough, Oliver. Moneyland. 2018.


7.     1/4 Autocracy and repression: domestic and transnational alternative

Repression is frequently linked with non-democratic regimes. However, repression occurs in an entire variety of areas, with different intensity and frequency. Why some regimes react violently to even the the most negligible protest, but others seem as not even caring? And how do autocracies behave outside their borders? How does it corresponds with the regime dynamics? (at the beginning even autocrats could be more “tolerant” towards the protests, while the regime could tightened its attitude towards the “alternatives” as it lasts long.

Key topics: repression, co-optation; regime resilience, domestic and transnational

At least two:
Frantz, Erica, and Andrea Kendall-Taylor. “A Dictator’s Toolkit: Understanding How Co-Optation Affects Repression in Autocracies.” Journal of Peace Research 51, no. 3 (2014): 332–46.
Keremoğlu Eda et al. Thin-skinned leaders: regime legitimation, protest issues, and repression in autocracies. Political Science Research and Methods. 2022;10(1):136-152.
Gandhi, J., & Przeworski, A. (2006). Cooperation, cooptation, and rebellion under dictatorships. Economics & politics, 18(1), 1-26.

Dukalskis, Alexander et al. Transnational repression: data advances, comparisons, and challenges. Political research Exchange 2022, vol.4, 1-17.

Seminars: [might be updated following the public holidays in Czech republic in 2024] practical application of the discussed theory on empirical examples from non-democratic contexts in late 20th and 21st centuries. Students are welcomed to bring cases outside of the Central Asian region. Each student should inform the lecturer about the chosen tittle of the presentation at least 5 working days in advance!  

8.     8/4 Seminar: Transfer of power and subsequent regime consolidation.

9.     15/4 Seminar: Autocratic solidarity and cooperation
Presentation: Matyáš Kadlec

10.  22/4 Seminar: How long do autocracies last and how do they collapse?
Presentation: Steffen, Nina Sophia

11.  29/4 Seminar: Follow the money: From resource curse to kleptocracy

12.  6/5 Seminar:  Autocracy and repression: domestic and transnational alternative
Presentation: Eliška Klimešová


[Spare lecture: Doing research in autocratic contexts. Ethics, risks, and opportunities.]

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