This course provides an introduction to the languages and cultures of the contemporary Central Asian republics (Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan), Xinjiang ‘Eastern Turkistan’ and the adjacent areas of Afghanistan. The course explores the social and linguistic aspects of the languages and cultures of Central Asia and how they have changed over the centuries, focusing particularly on Turkic languages and cultures. Topics to be discussed include: human geography and ethno-historical background, multilingual make-up, linguistic aspects and social status of Turkic and other regional languages, transformations in nomadic pastralism, sedentary farming, and urbanization, population and demographic problems, Islam as culture and as a way of life, other religious beliefs and practices, ethnicity and collective identity, kinship, marriage, family and gender relations, literature and folklore, arts and architectures, holidays, festivals and costume symbolic aspects, music and culinary cultures. The course will also survey the current sociopolitical conditions and future prospects for the languages and cultures of this region. This course has no prerequisites and does not require background knowledge of Central Asian Turkic languages. The course will consist of lectures, reading assignments, and class discussions and will make extensive use of films, slides and other audio-visual materials.
Days and Time: Tuesday and Thursday, 2:30-3:45.