Library Header Image
LSE Theses Online London School of Economics web site

The extremes it takes to survive: Tajikistan and the collapse of the Soviet Union, 1985-1992

Scarborough, Isaac McKean (2018) The extremes it takes to survive: Tajikistan and the collapse of the Soviet Union, 1985-1992. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

[img] Text - Submitted Version
Download (2MB)
Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.503n7u6k0vaa


This dissertation reevaluates the collapse of the USSR and the reform project of “perestroika” that preceded it from the perspective of Tajikistan. As one of the most peripheral republics in the Soviet Union, Tajikistan found its economy and society shaken to the core by the economic and political reforms passed between 1985 and 1991. Tracking the development of Soviet reform legislation in Moscow and its implementation in Tajikistan, this dissertation shows how perestroika was intimately linked to the breakdown of economic order and social ties that occurred during the final years of the USSR. Rejecting narratives focused on rising nationalism and long-suppressed regional frustrations, this dissertation outlines how Moscow-designed marketizing reforms were the main driver of strife in the Tajik SSR. As the economy disintegrated, so did the fabric of society: by February 1990 Tajikistan’s capital was subsumed by riot, and by May 1992 the entire country was aflame with civil war. By reorienting the history of the Soviet collapse to a peripheral republic that was engulfed by economic disorder and sectarian war, moreover, this dissertation problematizes the established historical discourse about the end of the USSR. Rather than the wave of democratization and free speech seen from the perspective of Moscow and Eastern Europe, for many millions of Soviet citizens the collapse of the USSR was a deeply frightening and violent event. Crime rates rose across the former USSR; local conflicts sprung up; wars flared in more than one republic. Much more than an outlier, Tajikistan was simply one extreme along this spectrum, and its experience of economic collapse leading to civil war complicates simple arguments about how glasnost led to the peaceful end of the USSR. This dissertation demonstrates that economics remained at the heart of the Soviet collapse and the violence that followed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2018 Isaac McKean Scarborough
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Sets: Departments > International History
Supervisor: Zubok, Vladislav

Actions (login required)

Record administration - authorised staff only Record administration - authorised staff only


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics