Anthropology | Sem. Cultural & Social Anth: Central Asian Pastoral Nomadic Societies
E600 | 0506 | Shahrani
Seminar examines nomadic pastoralism both as a form of subsistence
strategy or an economic system of adaptation to ecologically marginal
environments, and as a mode of sociopolitical adaptation to
socioculturally heterogeneous regions of Central Asia. Also examined
are: the changing role of nomadic peoples in the economic and
sociopolitical history of Central Asia, and a critical assessment of the
methodological and theoretical contributions anthropological studies of
nomadic pastoral societies have made both to the disciplines of
anthropology and history and to the better understanding of the dynamics
of contemporary societies in Central Asia.
The first part of the seminar will be devoted to a critical reading and
discussion of some of the pertinent historical and ethnographic
literature on Central Asian nomadic pastoralism. For the second part,
the students will be directed to critically assess the theoretical and
conceptual relevance of the entire corpus of seminar readings to their
own research interests focusing on a significant issue in nomadic
pastoral societies --e.g., sex and the construction of gender roles and
ideas, feuding and warfare, land tenure and the structure of political
economy, leadership and political processes, relations with sedentary
societies and the states, religion and ritual practices, marriage and
family organization, herd and pasture management techniques, law and
social control, persistence of nomadic pastoralism in the modern period
or other topics of interest to students. They are required to present
their reflections and research findings to the class for critical
Required Texts (some titles may vary):
Barfield, Thomas The Nomadic Alternative.
Barfield. Thomas The Perilous Frontier: Nomadic Empires in China.
Lattimore, Owen Inner Asian Frontiers of China.
Bacon, Elizabeth Obok: A Study of Social Structure in Eurasia.
Lindner, Rudi Nomads and Ottomans in Medieval Anatolia.
Swift, Jeremy & Robin Mearns, eds. Nomadic Peoples: Mongolian
Pastoralism on the Threshold of 21st Century.
Benson, Linda & Ingvar Svanberg China^s Last Nomads: The History and
Culture of China^s Kazakhs.
Shahrani, M. Nazif The Kirghiz and Wakhi of Afghanistan.
Martin, Virginia Law and Custom in the Steppe: Middle Horde Kazakh
Judicial Practices and Russian Colonial Rule, 1868-1898.
Salzman, Philip C. When Nomads Settle: Processes of Sedentarization as
Adaptation and Response.
A critical written report of the reading assignments for each week
(about 2-3 double spaced typewritten pages) highlighting the most
significant points (positive and negative) about the authors' approach
in the text(s). These brief weekly reviews are due in my office by
1:00pm on Tuesdays. Students are also expected to actively participate
in class discussions, lead class discussions, make an oral presentation
of the term project, and submit a term paper on the term project. The
term project will consist of a review essay consisting of: 1) critical
reading, detailed assessment and synthesis of all required readings for
the seminar; and 2) serious and reasoned reflection on how the
theoretical, conceptual, methodological and substantive issues covered
in this seminar will (or will not) be useful to your own specific topics
or fields of research interests and why. The essay should be about 20
typed pages (double-spaced).