Monday, January 26, 2009

LECTURES- Islam in Post-Soviet Central Asia, J. Schoeberlein, Toronto, Ann Arbor and East Lansing, Mich., Jan. 27-29

Distrib. by: Central-Eurasia-L - Announcement List for Central Eurasian Studies

LECTURES- Islam in Post-Soviet Central Asia, J. Schoeberlein, Jan. 27-29

Posted by: Project on Islam in Eurasia <>

This week, John Schoeberlein (Director of the Project on Islam in
Eurasia, Harvard University) will make the following lectures at the
University of Toronto, the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) and
Michigan State University (East Lansing).

University of Toronto
Central Asia Lecture Series

Tuesday, January 27, 1-3 pm

"Secular, Traditional, and Fundamentalist: The Intertwined
Orientations of Post-Soviet Central Asian Muslims"

Room 108, North Building, Munk Centre for International Studies
(1 Devonshire Place)
Sponsored by the Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies
and co-sponsored by the Central Asian Society.


The terms by which scholars and government officials alike most often
seek to characterize the religious orientations of Muslims in Central
Asia are proving to be quite inadequate and misleading. Generally,
these efforts to characterize Central Asian Islam aim at predicting
the political behavior of Muslims -- either fulfilling fears that
"Fundamentalism" will lead to radicalization and instability, or
providing reassurance that Soviet secularism or the "moderate"
traditions of Central Asian Islam will prevail. This talk will
explore the much more complicated picture of emerging motivations and
orientations by which Central Asian Muslims appeal to Islam. This is a
picture of intertwined strands of secularism and various ideas of
Islam that developed during Soviet and pre-Soviet times as well as
that have appeared in the region in the region in post-Soviet times.
>From an ethnographic perspective on how these concepts are interacting
in communities of ordinary Muslims, the talk will derive conclusions
on how policy-makers might better address the political challenges of
changing Central Asian Islam.

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Center for Russian and East European Studies (CREES)

Wednesday, January 28, 12:00-1:30 pm

"What is Post-Soviet about Islam in Central Asia?"

Location: 1636 II/SSWB, 1080 S. University
Sponsored by the Center for Russian and East European Studies and
Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies.
Contact Information: or 734.764.0351


The interpretation of Islam in the former Soviet spaces is commonly
based on assumptions that either the impact of the Soviet experience
was so thoroughgoing that Soviet Islam grew to have little in common
with Islam elsewhere, or alternatively, that Soviet influence and
control was merely a thin cover which, when it was lifted by the
demise of the Soviet system, would reveal an Islam that had thoroughly
resisted Soviet influences. This presentation will call into question
both of these assumptions, and consider the ways that the post-Soviet
experience of Islam is a product of the specific conditions which
prevail in the post-Soviet situation. This experience shows
substantial continuity across those parts of the former-Soviet space
where Islam is a predominant religion--which stems from common forces
which conditioned Soviet Islam, from common reactions of the
Soviet-formed elite to current changes, to common dynamics of
government policy making on issues of ideology, etc. In this, the
presentation will attempt to clarify what characteristics of the
post-Soviet condition that play a key role in setting the direction of
change in the realm of Islam.

Michigan State University
Asian Studies Center

Thursday, January 29, 4:00-6:00 pm

"Islam and the Legacy of Soviet Secularism"

Location: 303 International Center
Co-sponsored by the MSU Muslim Studies Program and the Center for
Eurasian and Russian Studies (CERS).
Contact: Tel: (517) 353-1680,


Dr. Schoeberlein will highlight the effects of secularization during
the Soviet period in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and the
Kyrgyz Republic, and show how the process of state-sponsored
secularization has impacts in the Central Asian region today. This
talk will focus on secularism, both in the Soviet period and in its
very strong legacy in Central Asia today. Islam will be addressed as
it challenges that secularist orientation, and also as it is formed by it.

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