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Islamic History & Identity in Central Asia: Key Issues & Debates

A lecture by Charles Weller, Washington State University

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Duration: 48:51

This talk aims to bring clarity to ongoing debates over Central Asian religious-cultural history and identity voiced in the post-Soviet period. The post-911 context has only intensified these issues, with questions of Islamic identity and practice across the region receiving special focus. Adding to the complexity of these debates are ongoing discoveries of new historical sources still coming to light as once inaccessible archives are made available to researchers and the broader public. An assessment of the scholarship to-date is offered via reference to both national and foreign sources – including the legacy of Tsarist and Soviet approaches – in connection to the points of debate raised over conversion and adherence to Islam among the Central Asian peoples in both their more distant and more recent past.

Charles Weller spent eight plus years in Kazakhstan during which time he received his Ph.D. in religious and cultural history at al-Farabi Kazakh National University (KNU) in Almaty. He was a visiting fellow at Yale University in 2010-11 and has since been teaching Central Asian, Middle Eastern, and world history at Washington State University (Pullman). Dr. Weller specializes in Central Asian religious-cultural history and identity with comparative focus on the late Tsarist and post-Soviet eras, and has presented talks and published numerous works in both Kazakh and English on this and other related topics. His most recent publication is a forthcoming article entitled “Religious-Cultural Revivalism as Historiographical Debate: Contending Claims in the Post-Soviet Kazakh Context” slated to appear in the Journal of Islamic Studies in Fall/Winter 2013.

Co-sponsored by the UCLA Program on Central Asia and the Center for European and Eurasian Studies.

Center for Near Eastern Studies