Central Asia

Muslims in a Global Context
Friday, March 21, 2014 to Saturday, March 22, 2014

Central Asia

This one credit mini-course is part of a series organized by regions around the world based on their role on the world stage, their importance within the Muslim world, and the critical influence they play in the global community. The series and course seeks to illuminate the various perspectives of the Muslim community around the world. Drawing upon the expertise and research of participating faculty from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh and our partners at institutions around the world, the mini course series seeks to have students gain understanding of the religious, cultural, economical and political influences of Muslims in a global context.

Course Learning Outcomes:
At the end of the course, students will:

  1. Gain an understanding of history, governance, economics, law, gender education and political dimensions of the peoples and regions focused for each mini course.
  2. Explore one of these factors in depth, through a research paper.

Engaging the Muslim World - Cole, Juan, St, Martens Press (2009).

The Muslims in the Global Context series offers the opportunity to examine the factors and trends that are having major impacts on these diverse regions and their relationships with other world regions and countries. The mini-courses consist of presentations on topics of critical importance to the understanding of Muslims in diverse regions of the world. In addition to attendance at all lectures, students enrolled for credit are required to develop and write a research paper on one of the themes of the mini-course and answer reflection prompts during the course. One- credit/ 3 units for CMU students is provided for the completion of each mini-course.

Due to the immersive nature of the course, students are expected to attend all sessions on all three days. Further, each student will be required to read the assigned book and develop a research paper on one dimension of Muslims in a global context that has been introduced in class. The paper should be based on one of the topics covered in the course. The length of the research paper will be 5-10 pages, double spaced in 11 point font. Research papers are due by Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015 and should be submitted through the University of Pittsburgh's Courseweb or Carnegie Mellon's Blackboard assignment tab for the course.

Audit Option:
Carnegie Mellon students may also audit the course by attending all the sessions, but not writing the paper. You should be sure to process an audit form, both if you are auditing from the beginning or later if you have decided not to do a paper and want your status changed from credit to audit. Once the course has started students will be graded based on how they signed up for the course.

University of Pittsburgh students must take the course for a letter grade. Students who wish to attend without earning credit may do so my registering as a community member.

Sponsored by: University of Pittsburgh's Global Studies Center, Political Science Department and the Center for Russian and East European Studies, and Carnegie Mellon University's Office of the Provost and Division of Student Affairs

Central Asia and its Neighbors

Jennifer Murtazashvili, Assistant Professor of Public Administration and International Development at GSPIA

Recommended Readings:

  • Mankoff, J., Kuchins, A., & Washington, D. (2013). The United States and Central Asia after 2014. Washington: Center for Strategic & International Studies.
  • The New Great Game in Central Asia: Geopolitics in a Post-Western World (Council on Foreign Relations
  • Murtazashvili, J. (2011). Coloured by revolution: the political economy of autocratic stability in Uzbekistan. Democratization, 78-97. (link)
  • Murtazashvili, J. B. Informal Federalism: Self-Governance and Power Sharing in Afghanistan. Publius: The Journal of Federalism, 324-343.(link)

PowerPoint Presentation:

Central Asian Cities: What is Urban Life Like, and What that Tells Us About the Region and the Times

Morgan Y. Liu, Associate Professor in Anthropology and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, Ohio State University

Recommended Readings:

  • Liu, Morgan Y. 2011. Central Asia in the Post-Cold War World. Annual Review of Anthropology, 40, 115-131. (link)
  • Liu, Morgan Y. 2012. Under Solomon's Throne : Uzbek Visions of Renewal in Osh. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. (link)

Heritage Wars and Pop Stars: Central Asians Navigating Local, National and Global Culture

Laura Adams, Professor of Sociology, Georgetown University

Recommended Readings:

The Nuances of Islamic Practice under Communism in Central Asia

Ali İğmen, Associate Professor of Central Asian History, and the Director of the Oral History Program at the California State University, Long Beach (CSULB)

Recommended Readings:

  • Aitmatov, Chingiz. 1962. Mother Earth, in Mother Earth and Other Stories (1989), translated by James Riordan, 1-105,
  • Atkin, Muriel. 1989. "The Survival of Islam in Soviet Tajikistan." Middle East Journal. 43, no. 4: 605-618,
  • Campbell, Elena. 2007. “The Muslim Question in Late Imperial Russia,” in Russian Empire: Space, People, Power, 1700-1930. J. Burbank, M. von Hagen and A. Renmev, eds., pp. 320-348,
  • Deweese, Devin. 2002. "Islam and the Legacy of Sovietology: A Review Essay on Yaacov Ro'i's Islam in the Soviet Union." Journal of Islamic Studies. 13, no. 3: 298-33,
  • Dudoignon, Stephane A. 2011. "From Revival to Mutation: The Religious Personnel of Islam in Tajikistan, from De-Stalinization to Independence (1955-91)." Central Asian Survey. 30, no. 1: 53-80.
  • Kemper, M. 2009. "The Soviet Discourse on the Origin and Class Character of Islam, 1923-1933." Die Welt Des Islams. 49, no. 1: 1,
  • Khalid, Adeeb. 2011. "Central Asia Between the Ottoman and the Soviet Worlds." Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History. 12, no. 2: 451-476, 
  • Naumkin, Vitaly V. "Islam in the states of the former USSR". Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, volume 524 (1992), pages 131-14,
  • Sartori, Paolo. 2010. "Towards a History of the Muslims' Soviet Union: A View from Central Asia." Die Welt Des Islams. 50, no. 3/4: 315-334,
  • Wheeler, Geoffrey. 1977. "Islam and the Soviet Union." Middle Eastern Studies, 13/1: 40-49.


  • Igmen, A. F. (2012). Speaking Soviet with an accent: culture and power in Kyrgyzstan. Pittsburgh, Pa.: University of Pittsburgh Press.
  • Igmen, A. F. (2012). Four Daughters of Tököldösh: Kyrgyz Actresses Define Soviet Modernity” in Special Issue: State-Society Relations, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (CSSAAME). Durham: Duke University Press, 32 (1), 40-56.

Political Islam and Internal Politics in Former Soviet Central Asia

John Heathershaw, Senior Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Exeter

Recommended Readings:

PowerPoint Presentation:


Hands Off! Property Rights and Predatory Central Asian States

Eric McGlinchey, Associate Professor of Politics and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Public and International Affairs, George Mason University

Recommended Readings:

I. The Imperfect Rise of Private Property in the Post-Soviet Space 

  • Hellman, Joel S. “Winners Take All: The Politics of Partial Reform in Postcommunist Transitions.” World Politics 50, no. 02 (1998): 203–234. 
  • Solnick, Steven L. “The Breakdown of Hierarchies in the Soviet Union and China: A Neoinstitutional Perspective.” World Politics 48 (1996): 209–38. 

II. Courts and Property Rights 

  • Solomon, Peter H. “Courts and Judges in Authoritarian Regimes.” World Politics 60, no. 1 (2007): 122–145.  

III. Central Asia Specific Cases 

  • 2013 Investment Climate Statement - Uzbekistan. U.S. Department of State Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, February 2013. (link). 
  • 2013 Investment Climate Statement - Kyrgyz Republic. U.S. Department of State Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, February 2013. (link)

PowerPoint Presentation:


Discourses about 'Nature’ and ‘Resources’ in Post-Soviet Central Asia

Amanda E. Wooden, Associate Professor in the Environmental Studies Program, Bucknell University

Recommended Readings:

  • Wooden, A. E. (2013). Another way of saying enough: Environmental Concern and Popular Mobilization in Kyrgyzstan, Post-Soviet Affairs.
  • Dark Ages?
  • Bichsel, C. (2011). Liquid Challenges: Contested Water in Central Asia. Sustainable Development Law & PolicyFall 2011, 24-30.
  • Weinthal, E. (1999). The NGO Paradox: Democratic Goals and Non-democratic Outcomes in Kazakhstan. Europe-Asia Studies, 1267-1284.3

Youth and Digital Media in Central Asia

Sarah Kendzior, Writer for Al Jazeera English, PhD in Cultural Anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis

Recommended Readings:

PowerPoint Presentation:

Gender and Social Change in Central Asia: Women Encounter Development

Noor O’Niell Borbieva, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne

Recommended Readings:

  • Aksartova, Sada. 2009. "Promoting Civil Society or Diffusing Ngos? U.S. Donors in the Former Societ Union." In Globalization, Philanthropy, and Civil Society: Projecting Institutional Logics Abroad, edited by David C. Hammack and Steven Heydemann, 160-191. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • Asylbekova, Nurgul, et al. n.d. "The United Nations in the Kyrgyz Republic: Translating Commitments on Gender Equality into Actions." Edited by United Nations. Bishkek. Available here.
  • Kuehnast, Kathleen Rae. 1998. From Pioneers to Entrepreneurs: Young Women, Consumerism, and the "World Picture" in Kyrgyzstan. Central Asian Survey 17(4):639-654.
  • Borbieva, Noor O'Neill. 2012. Empowering Muslim Women: Independent Religious Fellowships in the Kyrgyz Republic. Slavic Review 71(2):288-207.
  • Cieślewska, Anna. 2013. "From Shuttle Trader to Businesswomen: The Informal Bazaar Economy in Kyrgyzstan." In The Informal Post-Socialist Economy: Embedded Practices and Livelyhoods, edited by Jeremy Morris and Abel Polese, 121-134. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

PowerPoint Presentation:

"He Who Hasn't Been a Foreigner, Hasn't Been a Muslim": Debating Labour, Migration and the Ethical Life in Rural Central Asia

Madeleine Reeves, Lecturer in Social Anthropology, University of Manchester

Recommended Readings:

  • Marsden, Magnus. 2012. “For Badakhshan – the country without borders! Village cosmopolitans, rural-urban networks, and the post-cosmopolitan city in Tajikstain”.  In Caroline Humphrey and Vera Skvirskaja, eds., Post-Cosmpolitan Cities: Explorations of Urban Coexistance, pp. 217-239.
  • Reeves, Madeleine. 2013. ‘Migration, masculinity and transformations of social space in the Sokh valley’. In Marlene Laruelle  Migration and Social Upheaval as the Face of Globalization in Central Asia. Leiden: Brill, pp. 305-329.
  • Reeves, Madeleine. 2011. ‘Staying put? Towards a relational politics of mobility at a time of migration.’ Central Asian Survey, 30 (3-4): 555-576.
  • Thieme, Susan. 2008. “Living in Transition: How Kyrgyz Women Juggle Their Different Roles in a Multi-Local Setting.”Gender Technology and Development 12 (3): 325–345.
  • Sahadeo, Jeff. 2012. “Soviet ‘Blacks’ and Place Making in Leningrad and Moscow.” Slavic Review 71 (2): 331–358.

PowerPoint Presentation:

Islam, Well-being, and Everyday Life in Central Asia

David W. Montgomery, Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh; Director of Program Development for CEDAR--Communities Engaging with Difference and Religion

Recommended Readings:

  • Borbieva, Noor O'Neill. 2013. "Anxiety, order and the other: well-being among ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks." Central Asian Survey no. 32 (4):501-513.  
  • Louw, Maria. 2013. "Even honey may become bitter when there is too much of it: Islam and the struggle for a balanced existence in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan." Central Asian Survey no. 32 (4):514-526. 
  • Werner, Cynthia, Holly Barcus, and Namara Brede. 2013. "Discovering a sense of well-being through the revival of Islam: profiles of Kazakh imams in Western Mongolia." Central Asian Survey no. 32 (4):527-541. 
  • McBrien, Julie. 2006. "Listening to the wedding speaker: discussing religion and culture in Southern Kyrgyzstan." Central Asian Survey no. 25 (3):341-357. 
  • Schwab, Wendell. Unpublished. "Reformist Muslims, Fun, and Sociality in Kazakhstan."