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Ethnic History of Central Asia
CEUS-R 411/611
Ron Sela

This course carries CASE S&H designation

The course is a survey of ethnic history of Central Asia from the first centuries A.D. to the present time. Central Asia is defined as the western part of Inner Asia; it stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to Eastern Turkestan (Xinjiang) in the east, and belongs culturally to the Islamic world.

Throughout its history Central Asia has been a crossroads of cultures and civilizations, and a connecting link between East Asia, South Asia, the Near East, and Eastern Europe. It was affected by numerous migrations and invasions of various nomadic peoples up to the 18th century. As a result of continuous movements of populations of different ethnic and racial origin, a very complicated ethnic map of modern Central Asia emerged. During the 20th century, the interethnic relations in the region were further affected by the imperial policies of the Soviet Union and China, and by the rise of nationalism in the Central Asian republics.

The course will discuss all these changes and will provide an historical background for the understanding of interethnic relations in contemporary Central Asia. We will address different theories of ethnicity; migrations of peoples and their consequences, the formations of ethnic groups, the impact of imperial powers upon the construction of ethnic identity, the relationship between ethnicity, nationalism and the modern state, ethnicity and language, and the emergence of ethno-genesis in the independent republics of the former Soviet Union and neighboring regions. Special attention will be given to the Soviet typology of ethnicity and ethno-genesis.

Assignments & Grading:
Undergraduates: Two Exams (Each = 30%), as well as a blank map quiz and several brief responses to the readings (40%).
Graduate students will take both exams (and the map quiz), write a term paper, and be responsible for one in-class presentation.

Required Texts: No single textbook will be used. A study of the literature given in the bibliography (see below) is required; part of it will be provided as a course packet; part – as handouts. Additional readings may be assigned. It is highly recommended to purchase Historical Maps of Central Asia, 9th-19th Centuries A.D. Ed. Yuri Bregel (Bloomington, 2000). For sale in GB 244.