History | Introduction to Central Asian History
G300 | 27844 | Sela
A portion of the above class reserved for majors
Above class open to undergraduates and Education MA’s only
Above class meets with CEUS-U 320 and CEUS-U 520
Central Asia, the world’s “crossroads of cultures and
civilizations,” has witnessed an unparalleled increase in world
interest since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Its global
significance, reflected in its strategic location between China,
Russia, India and Iran, in the management of vital natural resources
such as oil and natural gas, and the recent American conflict in
Afghanistan, have turned the region into one of the key focal points
for academics, policy makers and practitioners.
This course offers students a unique opportunity to explore Central
Asia’s place in world history, its forceful presence in the history
of Islam, and its role as the great connecting link between East
Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
Initial lectures will survey the general history and geography of
the region and introduce students to major sources and the “state of
the field.” We will then examine chronologically the historical
developments in the region, both in the sedentary areas and in the
steppes, beginning with the rise of Islam and the Arab conquest and
finishing in the late-Soviet era. We will do so partly by reading
and discussing primary source materials written in Central Asia (in
English translation, of course).
Special themes to be addressed:
- Trade, migrations and exchange of ideas and goods along the “Silk
- The rise and fall of great empires (Chinggis Khan, Tamerlane).
- The region’s gradual conversion to Islam.
- Central Asia as a “frontier zone.”
- The symbiotic relationship between nomadic and urban-based
- The unique interaction between Turks and Iranians in Central Asian
- The “Great Game” or, the scramble for Central Asia.
- Colonization and nation building.
Prerequisites: No prerequisites are necessary.
1. "Svat Soucek, A History of Inner Asia" (Cambridge University
2. "Islamic Central Asia: An Anthology of Historical Sources"
(Indiana University Press, 2009).
Requirements & Grading:
- Two exams (a midterm and a take-home final), a blank map quiz, a
short term paper, and contribution to class discussions.