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Central Eurasian Studies >> Courses >> Course List
Islam in the Soviet Union and Successor States
CEUS-R 313/513
Devin DeWeese

This course carries CASE A&H & CASE GCC designations

This course will survey the historical background and contemporary status of Islam and peoples of Islamic heritage in countries that were formerly part of the USSR, with an emphasis upon the Soviet period and its legacies in the post-Soviet present.  The focus will be on understanding the distinctive pressures experienced and exerted by Islam, as a religion and as a social and cultural system, in the Soviet context, with particular attention to patterns of religious life, their adaptations in the Soviet era, and the impact of the Soviet experience upon them.  The course will highlight the problematical character of much of the scholarship on Islam in the Soviet Union and its successor states, emphasizing the need for reassessing this scholarship on the basis of more serious historical understanding, a wider range of sources, and the critical analysis of Soviet, Sovietological, and post-Soviet nationalist approaches to Islam and Muslim religious life.


For undergraduates, a midterm exam, given on the date listed in the course outline, and a final project (e.g., book review, annotated bibliography) to be approved by the instructor will count equally toward the final grade.

For graduate students, the midterm exam and a paper (20-25 pages) based on outside readings and research, on a topic to be determined in consultation with the instructor, will count equally toward the final grade.  Examinations will include additional questions for graduate students; overall expectations are greater for graduate students.

Regular class attendance is expected of all students.  Final projects and papers must be submitted in printed form.


Most required readings are included in a collection available for purchase at the department office; others are assigned from the following books placed on reserve at the Wells Library.

A list of recommended readings placed on reserve follows the course schedule and required reading list.  A supplementary bibliography of books and articles in English will be provided early in the semester. Students should be aware that the body of literature on Islam in the Soviet Union is of very uneven quality, and that much of this literature, especially that produced in the tradition of Sovietology, reveals little acquaintance with Islam as a religious and cultural tradition.  Readings are required or recommended not only as sources of information, but as examples of the range of viewpoints and assumptions that continue to shape, for good or for ill, scholarly discussion of Islam in the Soviet Union and its successor states, and a central aim of this course will be to sharpen students' skills in reading and thinking critically.