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Continental Drift: The Changing Nature of Central Asian Culture as the Basis for Curricular Development

This project will examine various cultural situations in the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan. Developments in this predominantly Muslim nation presage the emergence of a new national consciousness in Central Asia after centuries of imperial Russian and Soviet domination.

David MacFadyen, Slavic Languages and Literatures. ($47,500)

The study, Professor MacFadyen suggests, "will redefine traditional boundaries of both Slavic and Near Eastern studies." MacFadyen and a team of UCLA graduate students will study Uzbek literature, dance, and music. "It is in today's Central Asia," MacFadyen writes, "that we see several groups competing for the boundaries of a new cultural continent. Uzbekistan is the most important battleground in this dramatic re-forging of art, affect and mores."

A difficulty for the project is the paucity of written or recorded sources on the past of Uzbek literature or performance culture. Most of what little there is was produced in the Soviet Union, and is heavily biased toward the then-party line. MacFadyen and his collaborators will seek to mine the available Russian and Uzbek materials to create a needed overview of the current state and past heritage of Uzbek culture and its place in post-imperial Muslim Central Asia.

As a result work will be done to establish an Internet connection with a major Uzbek university, a link that will be of great use not only in developing distance learning tools between the region and UCLA, but it will also allow a wide range of audio-video materials to be archived concerning literature, dance, music, and even cuisine. The databases and interactive masterclasses or lectures will be used to develop a range of classes to step beyond the traditional confines of Slavic and Near Eastern Studies.

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