Guest Researcher

Beril Ocaklı is a research associate at the Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS). As a critical geographer and institutional economist, she follows discourses and practices of modernity, governance and development through extractive infrastructure projects, above and below ground, along corridors and roads, in Central Asia and the South Caucasus. She is currently leading the BMBF-funded project ‘China, the EU and Economic Development in Eastern Europe and Eurasia’ at ZOiS.

Before joining ZOiS, she was a postdoctoral researcher at IRI THESys & Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. She also completed her PhD in Human Geography there and still maintains her connection as a guest scholar. Her incentive to return to academia after a career in development cooperation was her many years of experience in leading transdisciplinary projects on resource governance on behalf of the German government, the EU and other multilateral organisations. Her studies in International Economics at the Corvinus University of Budapest in Hungary and Development Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science in the UK led her to development cooperation.

As a guest scholar at IRI THESys, she continues collaborative thinking and research on global extractivism and infrastructures with her colleagues. In 2018, she initiated the Mining Working Group with fellow colleagues. The Working Group brings IRI researchers working on different types and aspects of mining and resource extraction in dialogue.

Research Interests

  • Critical geopolitics and infrastructural processes in Central Asia and the South Caucasus
  • Authoritarian governance and repression through resource extraction and development paradigms
  • Activism and protest movements for just human-environment relations
  • Interdisciplinary, multi-method co-laboration and research

Selected Publications


2022. “Making and unmaking gold as a resource. Resistant socionatures in Maidan, Kyrgyzstan”, with Niewöhner, J. Geoforum vol 131 (May), pp. 151–162.

2021. “Taking the discourse seriously: Rational self-interest and resistance to mining in Kyrgyzstan”, with Krueger, T., Janssen, M. A., Kasymov, U. Ecological Economics vol. 189.

2020. “Shades of conflict in Kyrgyzstan: National actor perceptions and behaviour in mining”, with Krueger, T., Niewöhner, J. International Journal of the Commons, vol. 14 (1), pp. 191–207.

2020. “Kirgistan: Besetzung von Minen im ganzen Land”, with Jana Rapp. Novastan, October 2020.

2020. “Fünf Stans auf der Suche”, with Florian Coppenrath, Lukas Dünser, Robin Roth and Julia Tappeiner. Südwind, May/June Issue 2020.

In preparation

“Whom the roads bypass. East-West connections in a disconnected Georgia” with Valentin Krüsmann (to be submitted to Political Geography)

“The un/making of a gold rush. Extractive socionatures and resistance in Kyrgyzstan” (to be submitted to Extractive Industries and Society)

“Beyond the binary framing of institutions: An alternative perspective on rules in the study of social-ecological systems” with Corrie Hannah et al. (to be submitted to Nature Sustainability Perspective)

“Authoritarian resource nationalism and violence in Central Asia. An interdisciplinary approach” (with Vincent Artman) (to be submitted to OXUS Society for Central Asian Affairs)

Science Communication

“Das Ende des Goldrausches” based on interview for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. February 2022.

“As it decides the future of the Kumtor gold mine, Kyrgyzstan turns a blind eye to the present” based on interview for Novastan. October 2021.

“Shades of Conflict in Kyrgyzstan with Beril Ocaklı”. InCommon Podcast Talk. May 2021.

“Politics of the Kyrgyz mining sector: An Interview with Beril Ocaklı”. Voices on Central Asia. May 2021.

“How has extractivism played out in Soviet and post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan?”. The Global Extractivisms and Alternatives Initiative (EXALT) Podcast Talk. March 2021.

“Economist with a people focus”. Research in Germany. September 2019.

Mining Story 1: “A question of trust. Mining conflicts in Kyrgyzstan”. IRI THESys Research Portraits. June 2019.

Social Media

Find Beril on Twitter, ResearchGate and LinkedIn