Peoples and Cultures of Central Asia
This course carries Culture Studies & COLL S & H distribution credit
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); social institutions (marriage, family, kinship, gender relations, identities and organization, and religious beliefs and practices); and the assessment of socioeconomic 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 the collapse of the former USSR and 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. A background in general anthropology would be helpful, but not necessary. The course will consist of lectures, reading assignments, film and slide presentations, and class discussions.