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Central Asia: Cultures & Customs
Catalog number CEUS-R 110

This course carries CASE S&H & CASE GCC designations

This course will introduce Central Asia (including Xinjiang and Mongolia) and the Central Asian peoples to undergraduate students. Many people think of the Silk Road when they hear the term “Central Asia,” and indeed that region was a major crossroads on the fabled trade route linking East and West.  The languages, cultural traditions, religions, and material artifacts in Central Asia all illustrate that it has been a meeting place of peoples and cultures for centuries.  Most Central Asians are Muslims, and most speak languages in the same family as Turkish.  At the same time, they have widely differing lifeways, with pastoralists, farmers, itinerant traders, and urbanites represented. 
In this course we will cover who the Central Asian peoples are, their languages, religions, traditional ways of life, cultures and customs. We will emphasize both the common features they all share, and the important differences among them. Through readings, meetings with experts on and representatives from Central Asia, along with visual materials, artifacts, and songs students will find answers to their questions about this vast region. During the course students will watch several movies and selected excerpts from Central Asian films and other media in order to expose them to authentic ideas and images from Central Asian culture. This course is designed to give a virtual tour of this remarkable region.

Course requirements: 1. attendance; 2. reading and homework assignments; 3. participation in class discussion; 4. student presentations; 5. in-class midterm and final exams.

The final grade will be based on the following criteria: participation in class discussion: 20%, homework assignments: 15%, weekly quizzes: 20%, presentation: 15%, midterm exam: 15%, and final exam: 15%. 

Reading Materials
Students will be responsible for all assigned reading materials which will be available from E–reserve and Oncourse.

Readings will include some excerpts from the following books: “Central Asia” by Giles Whittell (1996), “Central Asia” edited by Edward Allworth (1989), “Central Asians under Russian rule: A study in Culture Change” by Elizabeth E. Bacon (1990), “Mongolia: a country study” edited by Robert L. Worden and Andrea Matles (1991), online materials, and the novel: “Jamilia” by the famous Kyrgyz novelist Chinghiz Aitmatov. (Start reading the novel early!)