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Alexander C. Diener

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - Geography and Atmospheric Science
Associate Professor
Director, Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies
Primary office:
Lindley Hall
Room 413A
University of Kansas
1475 Jayhawk Boulevard
Lawrence, KS 66045

Alexander C. Diener is an Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Kansas. After earning his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Alex was a Title VIII Research Fellow at the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center. He then taught at Pepperdine University before being named Senior Scholar in Eurasian Studies at George Washington University (2010-2011) and Regional Research Fulbright Scholar in Central Asia (2011-2012). In 2012 Alex joined the faculty of the Department of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Kansas, where he is also affiliated faculty with the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, Asian Studies, and Environmental Studies.

Throughout his career Alex has worked at the nexus of political, social, and cultural geography, engaging topics such as geopolitics and borders, identity and migration, citizenship, and urban landscape change. He possesses area studies expertise in Central Eurasia (the Central Asian states, Russian Borderlands, Islamic Borderlands) and Northeast Asia (Mongolia and Russian Borderlands). He has authored or co-authored three books, co-edited three books, and published in a variety of disciplinary and area-studies academic journals. Over the course of his career Alex has garnered a number of teaching accolades including the 2006 SSRC Teaching Fellowship. Alex is the founder of the student undergraduate journal Global Tides at Pepperdine University and has served a board member for several international academic organizations and granting agencies. He recently held a Title VIII Short Term Fellowship at the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars (2015) and was named Senior Fellow in Eurasian Studies at the Davis Center of Harvard University (2015-2016).


PhD, Geography, University of Wisconsin

MA, Political Geography, University of South Carolina

MA, International Relations, University of Chicago

BA, International Studies, Pepperdine University


My teaching philosophy works in conjunction with my research endeavors by embracing an interdisciplinary approach. I encourage students to explore questions from a variety of perspectives and compel them to recognize the interconnectedness of political, economic, social, cultural, and natural processes and phenomena. I want students to not only ask ‘what’ and ‘where’ something is occurring, but ‘why’, and then critically evaluate what they see, read, and hear. In many ways, I see myself less as a teacher and more as a facilitator. Clearly the communication of content is essential. Students must gain command of a canon of knowledge in order to effectively participate in discussions relating to specific topics. For that knowledge to be firmly set and readily usable, however, it must be applied during the learning process in a personalized field of inquiry. As such, my courses require active engagement with real world problems in a manner that is designed to lead students to their respective paths of purpose, service, and leadership. I became an academic in order to communicate to students the beauty of truth, and to inspire its pursuit amidst the world's infinite complexity. I want students to develop a passion for learning and to embrace the vibrancy of a ‘life of the mind’. In essence, I want students to see that awareness is better than a lack of awareness. For this to be true, however, it is imperative that enlightened values influence the world in which we live. I encourage students to consider possibilities for progress and then call for them to challenge the very notion of ‘progress’ - not only in instrumental or functionalist terms but also in moral and ethical terms. Through this process, I hope to combat complacency and cultivate students' a sense of responsibility for the world.

Teaching Interests

  • Political Geography
  • Cultural Geography
  • Social Geography
  • Urban Geography
  • Geopolitics
  • International Relations
  • Geographies of Islam
  • Social Theory
  • Border Studies
  • Peace Studies
  • Transnationalism and Diaspora Studies
  • Central Asia
  • Mongolia
  • Russian Borderlands
  • Chinese Borderlands


I characterize myself as a broadly trained human geographer with theoretical interests bridging the social sciences and humanities. At its core, my work explores the relationship between identity and place as an essential element of human ontology. I engage with the people/place bond as it manifests within processes of peace, conflict and development. Possessing an area studies specialization in Central Eurasia and Northeast Asia, I have contributed to interdisciplinary scholarly discourses relating to borders/ human mobility and immobility, environment/social justice, cultural hybridity, diaspora/transnationalism, and the impact of urban landscape change on community, self, and personhood. Since receiving my PhD, I have undertaken an ambitious research agenda that engages and critiques a range of social theory. Extensive fieldwork employing a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods in the Central Asian states, Mongolia, and both Russian and Islamic borderlands provides the empirical data for this work.

Research Interests

  • Political Geography
  • Social Geography
  • Cultural Geography
  • International Relations
  • Geographic and Social Theory
  • Urban Geography
  • Economic Geography
  • Geopolitics
  • Historical Geography
  • Peace Studies
  • Development Studies
  • Area Studies Foci
  • Central Eurasia
  • Northeast Asia
  • Central Asian States
  • Mongolia
  • Islamic Borderlands
  • Russian Borderlands
  • Specific Interests
  • Border Studies
  • Geographies of Nationalism & Transnationalism
  • Mobilities and Immobilities
  • Migration
  • Citizenship
  • Geographies of Islam
  • Processes and Consequences of Territorialization
  • Urban Landscape Change
  • Justice, Ethics, and Geographies of Belonging
  • Religion and State Relations
  • Place Attachment


Affiliations with:

Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies

Center for Asian Studies

Environmental Studies Program

Selected Publications

Diener, A. C., & Hagen, J. (2017). Changing Modalities of Power in the 21st Century . In C. Günay & N. Witjes (Eds.), Borders: (Re)Defining Spaces of Power Relations (pp. 15-32). Springer.

Diener, A. C (2016). Soviet Etchings on the Post-Soviet Parchment: The Past and Present of Mobility and Migration. In T. Holland & M. Derrick (Eds.), Questioning Post-Soviet (pp. 55-74). Washington DC: Wilson Center Press.

Diener, A. C. (2016). Kazakhs. In J. Stone, P. Rizova, A. Smith, D. Rutlege, & X. Huo (Eds.), The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity and Nationalism. Wiley/Blackwell.

Diener, A. C (2016). Imagining Kazakhstani-stan: Negotiations of Homeland and Titular Nationality. In M. Laruelle & . (Eds.), Kazakhstan in the Making: Legitimacy, Symbols, and Social Changes (pp. 131-154). London: M.E. Sharpe.

Diener, A. C. (2016). Landlocked States. In D. Richardson (Ed.), The Wiley-AAG International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology. . Wiley/Blackwell .

Charron, A. L., & Diener, A. C. (2016). Political Geography, New Regionalism, and Re-scaling Identity. SAIS Review, 35(2), 13-20.

Diener, A. C (2015). Parsing Mobilities in Central Eurasia: Border Management and New Silk Roads. Eurasian Geography and Economics. DOI:10.1080/15387216.2015.1078736

Diener, A. C., & Artman, V. (2015). Religion and the State. In R. Segal & K. Von Stuckrad (Eds.), Vocabulary for the Study of Religion . Brill.

Diener, A. C., & Hagen, J. (2015). 境界から世界を見る――ボーダースタディーズ入門 Borders: A Very Short Introduction (F. Kawakubo, Ed.). Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten Publishers . 205.

Diener, A. C (2015). Assessing Potential Russian Irredentism and Separatism in Kazakhstan’s Northern Oblasts. Eurasian Geography and Economics. DOI:10.1080/15387216.2015.1103660

Diener, A. C, & Hagen, J. (2015). Oxford University Press - Very Short Introductions . Preface for Japanese Language Version of Borders: Very Short Introduction, Borders: Very Short Introduction.

Diener, A. C. & Hagen, J. (Eds.). (2014). Taylor and Francis Special Issues as Books. From Socialist to Post Socialist Cities: Cultural Politics of Architecture, Urban Planning, and Identity in Eurasia. Routledge. Routledge.

Diener, A. C. (2014). Russian Repositioning: Mobilities and the Eurasian Regional Concept. In W. Susan & J. Corey (Eds.), Corridor of Interconnections: Eurasia from the South China to the Caspian Sea (pp. 72-109). London: Routledge.

Diener, A. C. (2014). [Review of Globalizing Central Asia: Geopolitics and the Challenges of Economic Development, Marlene Laruelle and Sebastien Peyrouse]. Geographical Review M.E. Shapre.

Diener, A. C. (2014). [Review of Central Asia in International Relations: The Legacies of Halford Mackinder, Eds. Nick Megoran and Sevara Sharapova London: Hurst and Co. Publishers 2013]. Central Asian Survey Taylor and Francis.

Diener, A. C. (2013). Borders Today: Interrogating their Strategic Fabrications and Asymmetries of Power [Review Essay Bordering and Ordering the Twenty-first Century , Gabriel Pepescu’s]. Dialogues in Human Geography, 1-3.

Diener, A. C., & Hagen, J. (2013). City of Concrete and Felt: Negotiating Cultural Hybridity in Mongolia's Capital of Ulaanbaatar. Nationalities Papers.

Diener, A. C., & Hagen, J. (2013). From Socialist to Post-Socialist Cities: Narrating the Nation through Urban Space. Nationalities Papers.

Diener, A. C. & Hagen, J. (Eds.). (2013). From Socialist to Post-Socialist Cities: Narrating the Nation through Urban Space . Nationalities Papers .

Diener, A. C., & Hagen, J. (2012). A Very Short Introduction to Borders , New York and London: Oxford University Press. 137.

Diener, A. C., & Hagen, J. (2012). Who Owns the Parcel, Spratley and Senkaku Islands?. Oxford University Press Blog

Diener, A. C. (2011). The Borderland Existence of Mongolia’s Kazakhs: Boundaries and the Construction of Territorial Belonging. In D. Wastl-Walter (Ed.), Research Companion to Border Studies (pp. 373-393). London: Ashgate.

Diener, A. C. (2011). Will New Mobilities Beget New (Im)Mobilities?: Prospects for Change Resulting from Mongolia’s Trans-State Highway. In S. Brunn (Ed.), Engineering Earth: The Impact of Mega Projects (pp. 627-642). Kluwer/Springer Press.

Diener, A. C., & Hagen, J. (2011). Kaliningrad's Past, Present, and Future: Russian and E.U. Perspectives on the Geopolitics of Exclave and Enclave. Eurasian Geography and Economics , 52(4), 567-592.

Diener, A. C. (2011). [Review of Seeking Asylum: Human Smuggling and Bureaucracy at the Border, Alison Mountz]. Professional Geographer University of Minnesota Press 2010.

Diener, A. C., & Hagen, J. (2010). Russia’s Kaliningrad Exclave: Discontinuity as Threat to Sovereignty. In A. C. Diener & J. Hagen (Eds.), Borderlines and Borderlands: Political Oddities at the Edge of the Nation State (pp. 121-136). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Diener, A. C. (2010). Borderlines and Borderlands: Political Oddities at the Edge of the Nation State (A. C. Diener & J. Hagen, Eds.). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers . 264.

Diener, A. C. (2009). One Homeland or Two?: Nationalization and Transnationalization of Mongolia’s Kazakhs, Palo Alto, CA and Washington DC: Stanford University Press and Woodrow Wilson Center Press . 405.

Diener, A. C. (2009). Diasporic Stances: Comparing the Historical Geographic Antecedents of German and Korean Migration Decisions in Kazakhstan. Geopolitics, 14(3), 462-487.

Diener, A. C., & Hagen, J. (2009). Theorizing Borders in a Borderless World: Globalization, Mobility and Scale. Geography Compass , 3(3), 1196-1216.

Diener, A. C., & Crawford, T. (2008). Democracy, Civil Society and the Damage Limitation Component of Strategy. In P. R. Viotti, M. Opheim, & N. Bowen (Eds.), Terrorism and Homeland Security: Thinking Strategically About Policy (pp. 191-206). CRC Press .

Diener, A. C. (2008). Settlement of the Returning Kazakh Diaspora: Practicality, Choice, and the Nationalization of Social Space. In C. Buckley & B. Ruble (Eds.), Migration, Homeland, and Belonging in Eurasia (pp. 265-304). Woodrow Wilson Press.

Diener, A. C. (2008). Diasporic and Transnational Social Practices in Central Asia. Geography Compass, 2(2), 956-978.

Diener, A. C. (2007). Negotiating Territorial Belonging: A Transnational Field Approach to Mongolia’s Kazakhs. Geopolitics, 12(3), 459-487.

Diener, A. C. (2007). Transnationalism and Minority Territorialization in Kazakhstan. International Journal of Central Asian Studies, 11, 86-102.

Diener, A. C. (2007). [Review of Central Asia and the Caucasus: Transnationalism and Diaspora, eds. Touraj Atabaki and Sanjyot Mehendale 2005 ]. Central Asian Survey

Diener, A. C. (2007). Koreans and Germans of Kazakhstan: A Comparative Study of Belonging. Korean Studies , 4-16.

Diener, A. C. (2006). Homeland as Social Construct: Territorialization among Germans and Koreans in Kazakhstan. Nationalities Papers, 34(2), 201-236.

Diener, A. C. (2006). [Review of Hearing Birds Fly: A Nomadic Year in Mongolia, Louisa Waugh, London: Abacus 2003 ]. Mongolian Studies

Diener, A. C. (2005). Mongols, Kazakhs, and Mongolian Territorial Identity: Trajectories of Nationalization. Central Eurasian Studies Review, 3-4(1), 18-25.

Diener, A. C. (2005). Problematic Integration of Mongolian-Kazakh Return-Migrants in Kazakhstan . Eurasian Geography and Economics, 6, 465-478.

Diener, A. C. (2005). [Review of The Mongols at China’s Edge: History and the Politics of National Unity, New York: Rowman and Littlefield 2002 , Uradyn Bulag]. H-Net

Diener, A. C. (2005). Kazakhstan’s Kin-State Diaspora: Settlement Planning and the Oralman Dilemma. Europe Asia Studies, 57(2), 327-348.

Diener, A. C. (2005). Research among Mongolia’s Kazakhs: Brief Reflections on Data Collection and Community Access. Mongol Survey , 15, 14-18.

Diener, A. C. (2004). Homeland Conceptions and Ethnic Integration among Kazakhstan's Germans and Koreans , Lampeter UK: Edwin Mellen Press. 180.

Diener, A. C. (2004). [Review of Central Asia: Aspects of Transition, Tom Everett-Heath, London: RoutledgeCurzon 2003 ]. Journal of Asian Studies

Diener, A. C. (2002). National Territory and the Reconstruction of History in Kazakhstan. Eurasian Geography and Economics, 8, 632-647.

Selected Presentations

Diener, A. . Border Theory. Border Studies Summer Workshop. Hokkaido University

Diener, A. . Borders Ethics and Place Making. Borders Studies Summer Workshop. Hokkaido University

Diener, A. . China's New Silk Road Policy and Central Asia. AAG 2016. San Fransisco

Diener, A. . Critical Considerations of the Post Post Soviet Era. AAG 2016. San Fransisco

Diener, A. . If I knew then what I know now.. Towards Acquisition of Research Funding . AAG 2016. San Fransisco

Diener, A. . Mongolia's Millennium Highway as Microcosm of Eurasia's New Silk Roads. AAG 2016. San Fransisco

Diener, A. . Mongolian Mobilties and Eurasia's New Silk Roads. University of Connecticut Department of Geography

Diener, A. . Negotiating the Identity/Territorial Nexus in the Urbanscapes of Central Eurasia: Case Studies of Bishkek and Ulaanbaatar . American Corners - US Consulate. Almaty Kazakhstan

Diener, A. . Rescaling Citizenship. Oxford Handbook on Citizenship Authors' Conference. Florence Italy

Diener, A. (02/01/2017 - 02/28/2017). New Roads for Mongolia. Center for East Asian Studies Tea and Talk Series.

Diener, A. (03/01/2016 - 03/31/2016). The Millennium Highway and Eurasian Development Frontiers. Monumentality of Roads. Harvard University

Diener, A. (01/01/2015 - 12/31/2015). Debating the Doctrine of National Unity: Nationalization Trajectories in Kazakhstan. International Studies Association. New Orleans, LA

Diener, A. (10/16/2015). Parsing Mobilities in Central Eurasia: Border Management and the New Silk Roads . Central Eurasian Studies Society Annual Meeting 2015. Washington DC

Diener, A. (04/01/2015 - 04/30/2015). Border Issues in Asia. Association of American Geographers. Chicago IL

Diener, A. (04/01/2015 - 04/30/2015). Place Attachment: Toward a Geographic Theory of Hybridity. Association of American Geographers. Chicago IL

Diener, A. (04/01/2015 - 04/30/2015). Surveying Border Studies. Association of Borderland Studies. Portland, OR

Diener, A. (11/21/2014). Kazakhstan or Kazakhstani-stan: Elements of Ethnic and Civic Nationalism in State Ideology. ASEEES Annual Conference . San Antonio Texas

Diener, A. (10/27/2014). Kazakhstani Titular Nationalism . Invited Lecture at Department of Geography OSU. Oklahoma State University

Diener, A. (10/20/2014). Imagining Kazakhstani-stan. Central Eurasian Studies Society. Columbia University

Diener, A. (06/12/2014 - 06/13/2014). Imagining Kazakhstani-stan. Kazakhstan Beyond Economic Success: Exploring Social and Cultural Changes in Eurasia A Conference organized by The George Washington University’s Central Asia Program (CAP) and the Uppsala Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies (UCRS), and funded. Uppsala Sweden

Diener, A. (04/30/2014). Central Asian Politics: Power, Peoples, and Place. University of Kansas. Lawrence KS

Diener, A. (04/30/2014). Kyrgyzstan or Kyrgyzstani-stan: Narrating the-Nation in the Landscape of Bishkek . Association of American Geographers Conference . Tampa FL 2014

Diener, A. (02/28/2014). Geographical Perspectives on the New Silk Road . Central Asian Security Workshop, George Washington University. Washington DC

Diener, A. (01/01/2013 - 12/31/2013). Contrasting Ulaanbaatar’s Landscapes of Traditionalism, Socialism, and Globalism: Negotiating Sustainable Hybridity in Post-Socialist Mongolia . Regional Studies Conference. UCLA

Diener, A. (01/01/2013 - 12/31/2013). Geopolitical Imaginaries of Eurasian Space. Central Eurasian Studies Society Annual Conference. Madison, WI

Diener, A. (01/01/2013 - 12/31/2013). Russian Repositioning: Mobilities and the Eurasian Regional Concept . Association of American Geographers Conference . Los Angeles

Diener, A. (01/01/2013 - 12/31/2013). Social Consequences of Mixed Migration in Eurasia . A Noah’s Ark of Nations: Eurasian Demographics and Migration:Bureau of Intelligence and Research U.S. Department of State. Washington DC

Diener, A. (01/01/2013 - 12/31/2013). Urban Landscape Change as a Means of Sustaining Population. Sustainable Development in Russian Cities: Russian Geographical Society. Samara, Russia

Diener, A. (11/17/2013). Border Studies: A Short Introduction. Guest Lecturer, University of Denver (Department of Geography). Denver, CO

Diener, A. (11/17/2013). The New Silk Road or the Road to Nowhere? Mobilities and Immobilities in Central Eurasia. Guest Lecturer, University of Denver (Department of Geography). Denver, CO

Diener, A. (12/31/2012). City of Concrete and Felt: Negotiating Cultural Hybridity in Mongolia's Capital of Ulaan Baatar. ASEEES Conference. New Orleans, LA

Diener, A. (12/31/2012). Geopolitics of the New Silk Road. South and Central Asian Regional Fulbright Conference. Cochin, India

Diener, A. (12/31/2012). Kyrgyzstan or Kyrgyzstani-stan: Nationalism and Urban Change in Bishkek. Central Eurasian Studies Society Annual Conference. Bloomington, IN

Diener, A. (12/31/2012). The New Silk Road: Mobilities and Barrier Borders in Central Eurasia. Walls and Fences: Politics and Ethics of Barrier Borders, Yale University. New Haven, CT

Diener, A. (11/01/2012). City of Concrete and Felt: Negotiating Cultural Hybridity in Mongolia’s Capital of Ulaanbaatar. Guest Lecturer, University of Wisconsin-Madison (CREECA and Asian Studies). Madison, WI

Diener, A. (09/04/2012). The New Silk Road Project. Guest Lecturer, University of Kansas, CREES Brownbag Lunch Series. Lawrence, KS

Diener, A. (02/22/2012). Geographies of Disability in Central Asia. Guest Lecturer, American University of Central Asia. Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic

Diener, A. (01/18/2012). Debating the New Silk Road: Borders, Mobilities, and Identities. Guest Lecturer, U.S. Embassy Kyrgyz Republic. Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic

Diener, A. (12/31/2011). Geographical Visualization: Challenges of Data Acquisition and Risks of Manipulation. Methodological Challenges for Research the Former Soviet Union, Central European University. Budapest, Hungary

Diener, A. (11/13/2011). Teaching Central Asia: Surveying Eurasian Studies in the American Academy. Keynote Address, Guest Lecturer, Fulbright Alumni Conference. Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic

Diener, A. (11/12/2010). Borderlands, Migration, and Identity in Northeast Asia. Guest Lecturer, Kennesaw State University.

Diener, A. (04/10/2010). Eurasian Studies in America. Keynote Address, Guest Lecturer, University of California at Los Angeles California Eurasian Kuraltai.

Selected Grants

Diener, Alexander C, (Principal), Kyrgyzstan or Kyrgyzstani-stan: Negotiating State-Ideology within theUrban-scapes of Kyrgyz Republic, Association of American Geographers, $1,000, . Not-for-Profit (not Foundation). Status: Funded.

Diener, Alexander C, (Co-Principal), Charron, Austin , (Co-Principal), Ukraine’s Displaced Crimeans and the Question of Diaspora, National Science Foundation Dissertation Enhancement Grant, $39,494, . Federal. Status: Funded.

Diener, Alexander C, (Principal), Parsing Mobilities in Central Eurasia: Border Management and New Silk Roads, Davis Center of Harvard University, $28,000, Submitted 06/10/2014 (09/01/2015 - 08/14/2016) . Other University. Status: Funded.

Diener, Alexander C, (Principal), Narrating the Nation Through Urban Space, Kennan Institute - Woodrow Wilson Center - Short Term Grant, $3,000, Submitted 12/01/2014 (06/30/2015 - 08/25/2015) . Federal. Status: Funded.

Diener, Alexander, (Principal), Narrating the Nation through Urban Space, University of Kansas, $8,000, (08/01/2013 - 05/31/2014) . This funding resulted in an edited book titled From Socialist to Post-Socialist Cities: Cultural Politics of Architecture, Urban Planning, and Identity in Eurasia co-editor with Joshua Hagen, (Routledge 2014 – ISBN 978-1138821200) pp. 208 and a contract for a second edited book titled Urban Space, Place, and National Identity co-editor with Joshua Hagen, (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers). University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded.

Diener, Alexander C., Regional Research Fulbright Fellowship for South and Central Asia, (01/01/2011 - 12/31/2012) . Federal. Status: Funded.

Diener, Alexander C., Senior Research Fellow, Center for Social Research, American University of Central Asia (Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic), (01/01/2011 - 12/31/2012) . Other University. Status: Funded.

Diener, Alexander C., Senior Scholar in Eurasian Studies, Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, (01/01/2010 - 12/31/2011) . Other University. Status: Funded.

Diener, Alexander C., Teaching Fellowship: Course Creation - 'Islamic Asia' and the 'Ethnic History of Central Asia', Social Science Research Council Eurasia Program, - 12/31/2006) . Not-for-Profit (not Foundation). Status: Funded.

Diener, Alexander C, (Principal), Title VIII Research Scholar, Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, (01/01/2003 - 12/31/2004) . Not-for-Profit (not Foundation). Status: Funded.

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CEAS offers an M.A. program in Contemporary East Asian Studies.This interdisciplinary degree focused on 20th and 21st century East Asia provides students with in-depth interdisciplinary knowledge of a selected East Asian country (China, Korea, Japan); a broad knowledge of modern East Asia; and social science research skills and methods appropriate to international area studies. Read more about the CEAS M.A. Program, or contact Ayako Mizumura, CEAS Assistant Director, at or 785-864-1478.

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