Indiana University Bloomington
Central Eurasian Studies >> Courses >> Course List
Peoples and Cultures of Central Asia
Catalog number CEUS-U 398/520
M. Nazif Shahrani

A general anthropological introduction to the societies and cultures of the contemporary Muslim successor states of former Soviet Central Asia and the adjacent areas of Iran and Afghanistan --i.e., western Turkistan. Topics include ecology, ethnohistory and the structure of traditional subsistence strategies (nomadic pastoralism, sedentary farming, and urban mercantilism); forms of marriage, family, kinship, gender relations, identities and organization; religious beliefs and practices; and the assessment of socio-economic change and recent political transformations experienced by the peoples of this region under the colonial rules of tsarist and Soviet Russia, and the modern nation states of Iran and Afghanistan. The consequences of war on terrorism, volatile sociopolitical conditions and future prospects for the peoples of this region will be also critically examined. No special knowledge of the region on the part of students is presumed. However, a background in general anthropology would be helpful, but not essential. The course will consist of lectures, reading assignments, film and slide presentations and class discussions.

Required Texts (some title may vary):
Bacon, Elizabeth        Central Asia Under Russian Rule: A Study in Culture Change. Ithaca: Cornell U. Press (1980).
Rashid, Ahmed           The Resurgence of Central Asia: Islam or Nationalism? (1994)
Schimmel, AnnemarieIslam: An Introduction. Albany, N.Y.: SUNY Press (1992)
Shahrani, M. Nazif     The Kirghiz and Wakhi of Afghanistan: Adaptation to Closed Frontiers and War. Seattle: University of Washington Press (2002)
Shalinsky, Audrey      Long Years of Exile: Central Asian Refugees in Afghanistan and Pakistan. New York: University Press of America, Inc. (1994)

Course Requirement:
A. Undergraduate students course grades will be based on:

Mid-Term exam = 30% of course grade
Final exam = 45% of course grade
An eight page (double-spaced typed) critical comparative written review of two or three ethnographic case studies = 20% of the course grade.
Participation in class discussions = 5% of the course grade.
All examinations will be in class and essay type.

B. Graduate students are expected to submit a term paper in addition to taking the exams. For graduate students course grades will be based on mid-term and final Examination (worth 60% of the course grade), and a term paper (worth 40% of the course grade).