Congratulations to Professor Morgan Liu on receiving the annual book award of the Central Eurasian Studies Society in 2014 for his monograph Under Solomon’s Throne. The book was chosen by three panelists as the best book on Central Eurasia in the Social Sciences published in 2012 or 2013. It was selected from a shortlist of seven.
The panelists made the following comments about his book.
‘This ethnographic study gets to the heart of the paradoxical social dynamics that have twice in twenty years propelled the city of Osh into ethnicity-based riots and potential war, sending as many as half a million people fleeing as refugees. The study is wonderfully researched and brilliantly illustrates the ways in which Osh is reflective of the region as a whole. It peels back the multiple layers of identity — Soviet, post-Soviet national, neighborhood, regional, religious — and exposes how they combine to inform the ways that people make sense of their lives and the political tensions that they confront on a day to day basis. The study is bookended by two traumatic ethnic conflicts. By focusing on the time inbetween, Liu’s study does a beautiful job of bringing to the fore the complexities of everyday life for all Central Asian peoples. It is punctuated with a great number of vignettes that illustrate this complexity for the uninformed reader, and I loved his use of the various types of urban space (mahalla served six ways, the street, the gate, etc.) which make so much sense to those of us who have spent extended periods living in the region. His conclusions are applicable far beyond Osh. The scholarship is exceptional, it is written in elegant prose, and it stands to improve knowledge about Central Asia among vast audience.’
‘Liu’s book stands to do the most in terms of advancing scholarship on the region as well as a general understanding of the lived experiences of Central Asians. It does a magnificent job at portraying Central Asian Muslims in realistic and three-dimensional terms. It is finding an enthusiastic audience among scholars of multiple disciplines, including of course Anthropology and Sociology, as well as IR/Political Science, and has already made its way into the classroom. Liu’s study is a real field-changer.’
Liu’s book is remarkable for its, ‘contribution to the field in terms of really explaining the moral force of authoritarianism (authoritarianism from below, if you wish) and support for a strong state (again, from below) in many Eurasian countries.’
‘What I like the most about Morgan’s book is that he brings forth full “intellectual capacity” of his informants.’