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Central Asian Law: An Historical Overview. A Festschrift for The Ninetieth Birthday of Herbert Franke. Edited by W.Johnson, I.F.Popova. Society for Asian Legal History, The Hall Center for the Humanities, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, Ks. 2004.


PREFACE

Central Asia has recently stimulated a concern internationally that has not existed since the 19th century, when Great Britain and the Russian Empire struggled over who would win “The Great Game”. There are several causes for this revival of interest in the region. First, the collapse of the Soviet Union ended its domination of large parts of the area and brought new nations into being. Then the discovery of rich oil and natural gas deposits stimulated investment by foreign countries that wished to exploit these resources. Lastly, the attention of the world became focused on Afghanistan after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, once it became known that this small country was the center of the AI Qaeda movement headed by Osama bin-Laden. But despite this newly awakened interest, our knowledge about many of the most important aspects of these countries is sadly lacking.

A particularly rewarding way to examine any society is through its laws. Laws not only embody the ethical and religious ideals of a people but their leaders have the power to enforce these views through courts and by fines, detention and physical punishment if necessary. This topic is especially relevant at the present time when many of the countries in the region are trying to make changes in their societies that will enable them to adapt to present day international standards. None of this is easy and perhaps nothing is harder than the reform of laws that have a long history. But this history cannot be ignored. Will the trappings of democracy that have been instituted really be allowed to function? It seems that at least in some of these states, presidents have in fact become dictators and their security systems are primarily concerned with the suppression of unpopular views. Protesters are imprisoned – even executed in some instances. Socially, will the hoped for changes be allowed? And will women really be permitted more freedom to obtain education and participate in the political process? The papers presented here try to inform us on these and other questions.

We wish to express our gratitude to The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for the grant that supported first the conference and then the publication of the papers. We also would like to thank Professor Wim Stokhof, Director of The International Institute for Asian Studies of the University of Leiden, both for affording us space for the conference and for having his staff take over the burden of administration that freed us from many difficulties. Here I am glad to have the chance to recognize the invaluable aid of Ms. Marloes Rozing, Drs, who is the Conference. Supervisor and Financial Manager of the Institute. She booked rooms, arranged food, paid bills, and performed a multitude of other services with the greatest good will and and more patience than could reasonably have been expected. She has our most sincere thanks for all of this.

During the conference, Brian Vivier took extensive notes on the discussions about the papers that helped the participants make needed revisions. At the University of Kansas, The Hall Center for the Humanities has supported our efforts to spread knowledge of Asian law and the Center for East Asian Studies has helped as well with financing. As this whole effort of several years now comes to a close, I wish particularly to thank Vickie Doll, Head of the East Asian Library, who gave a great deal of her time to searching references and Pamela LeRow of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Center for Word Processing for her generous help in preparing the manuscript for the press. Thanks also go to my wife, Diantha proofread the whole of the manuscript.

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Dedication, Preface, Table of Contents

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