Tag Archives: Central Asia

Memory and Commemoration in Islamic Central Asia

LUCIS 7th Annual Conference: Memory and Commemoration in Islamic Central Asia

Leiden University Centre for the Study of Islam and Society

d1180x250The seventh annual conference of LUCIS focuses on Islamic Central Asia, both from a historical and contemporary perspective. Central Asia today is often regarded as a periphery of the Islamic world, but this region with its fluid borders, stretching into present-day Afghanistan, Russia, China, Mongolia, Iran and the Caucasus, has been for a long period the cradle of empires that ruled over large parts of the globe.

Central Asia in the past has been at the heart of the trade network known as the Silk Road, a premodern highway of global interaction. The idea of a New Silk Road today demonstrates Central Asia’s increasing importance as a centre stage of geopolitical interests. Comprehending the complex history of Central Asia by taking into account its dynastic and regional historiographies and more recent nationalistic narratives is crucial for perceiving the current dynamics of this vast region.

Analysing commemorative practices across Central Asia may provide a prolific framework to outline the complexity of its group identities, in modern times often constructed as nationalistic narratives. In this conference we propose to focus on the notion of memory and commemoration in Central Asia from past and present perspectives, in a broad sense, in order to shed light on the complexities of this fascinating and understudied region.

Themes

Rather than focusing on a single period, medium or language of commemorative practices, the conference will take a comparative and connective perspective. Questions that may be addressed include:

  • Narratives: How does literary and artistic production reflect imperial ideology and commemorative culture? How were dynastic members commemorated and rehabilitated? How were genealogies concocted and manipulated in order to commemorate the ancestral origins? How were important events commemorated?
  • Sites:  How were visions of kingship articulated in commemorative dynastic shrines and landscapes across Central Asia? How did religiously diverse commemorative practices contribute to the development of a distinct royal visual morphology? How were urban centres transformed through the diverse visual lexicon of local Islamic cult activities? How are historical shrines and cults commemorated in the present?
  • Religions:  How was commemorative culture influenced by orthodox Islam and Sufism? What was the impact of these complex theological interactions on the intellectual life and artistic production throughout Central Asia? How are religious commemorative practices used in contemporary nationalistic discourses?

The themes of the conference are broad on purpose, as we wish to welcome speakers from different disciplines and backgrounds.

Please find the full programme of the LUCIS annual conference here.

Iranian languages and literatures of Central Asia

Matteo de Chiara & Evelin Grassi (eds.). 2015. Iranian languages and literatures of Central Asia: From the eighteenth century to the present (Studia Iranica. Cahier 57). Paris.

The Table of Contents is here.

Compared with numerous critical studies in Central Asian history, politics and society published during recent years, modern languages and literary traditions of Central Asia have received less scholarly attention in the West. If we consider specifically the Iranian world, especially in the modern period, it must be admitted that the linguistics and literature of Central Asia, compared to the linguistics and literature of Iran, remain in need of more investigation.
This collection sheds light on various issues of the Iranian linguistic and literary arena “outside of Iran”, offering a variety of twelve original contributions by both leading scholars and new names in the international academic setting. The regions of Afghanistan, Badakhshan, and Transoxania, important centers of Iranian languages and literatures, are here brought back into their broader Iranian context, for the benefit of modern Iranian studies.

Christianity in Central Asia

Dickens, Mark. 2015. Le christianisme syriaque en Asie centrale. In Borbone, Pier Giorgio & Pierre Marsone (eds.), Le christianisme syriaque en Asie centrale et en Chine (Études Syriaques 12), 6–39. Geuthner.

Overview of the history of Christianity in Central Asia from the earliest reference in the works of Bardaisan to allusions in various sources to the final state of Christianity in the Timurid realm.

History of Sogdian Merchants

histoire-des-marchands-sogdiens-9782857570608_0de la Vaissière, Etienne. 2016. Histoire des marchands sogdiens. Troisième édition révisée. (Institut des hautes études chinoises (Collège de France) 32).
The Sogdian Traders were the main go-between of Central Asia from the fifth to the eighth century. From their towns of Samarkand, Bukhara, or Tashkent, their diaspora is attested by texts, inscriptions or archaeology in all the major countries of Asia (India, China, Iran, Turkish Steppe, but also Byzantium). This survey for the first time brings together all the data on their trade, from the beginning, a small-scale trade in the first century BC up to its end in the tenth century. It should interest all the specialists of Ancient and Medieval Asia (including specialists of Sinology, Islamic Studies, Iranology, Turkology and Indology) but also specialists of Medieval Economic History.
This volume is the third revised edition of the orginal published in 2002 and translated into english in 2005 by James Ward.
Étienne de la Vaissière (PhD 1999) in History, is Assistant Professor at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris. His courses and research are devoted to the economic and social history of medieval Central Asia.

Samarkand: The Center of the World

Compareti 2016Compareti, Matteo. 2016. Samarkand: The center of the world. Proposals for the identification of the Afrasyab paintings (Sasanika Series 5). Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers.

In antiquity Samarkand was the capital of the Persian province of Sogdiana. Its language, culture, and “Zoroastrian” religion closely approximated those of the Persians. Following its conquest by Alexander, its strategic position and fertile soil made Sogdiana a coveted prize for Late Antique invaders of Central Asia. Around 660 CE — at the dawn of Arab invasion — local king Varkhuman promoted the execution of a unique painted program in one of his private rooms. Each wall was dedicated to a specific population: the north wall, the Chinese; the west, the Sogdians themselves; the east, the Indians and possibly the Turks. The south wall is probably the continuation of the scene on the west wall. In Chinese written sources, some support for this concept of the “division of the world” can be found. Accidentally discovered during Soviet times, the room was named “Hall of the Ambassadors” due to the representations of different peoples. However, many aspects of its painted program remain obscure. This study offers new ideas for better identifications of the rituals celebrated by the people on the different walls during precise moments of the year.

Matteo Compareti (PhD 2005) is Guitty Azarpay Distinguished Visitor in the History of the Arts of Iran and Central Asia at the University of California, Berkeley. He studied at the University of Venice “Ca’ Foscari” in the faculty of oriental studies in 1999 and took hid PhD from the University of Naples “L‘Orientale,” working on the Silk Road in 2005. His interest is on the iconography of Mazdean divinities in Pre-Islamic Iran and Central Asia, especially Sasanian and Sogdian art.

Cultural Transfer along the Silk Road

Espagne, Michel, Svetlana Gorshenina, Frantz Grenet, Sahin Mustafayev & Claude Rapin (eds.). 2016. Asie centrale: transferts culturels le long de la route de la soie. Paris: Vendémiaire.
This collection of essays is the result of the International Symposium “Cultural Transfers in Central Asia: before, during and after the Silk Road” (Conference Program), held in Samarkand on 12–14 September 2013. Expanding the original Eurocentric orientation in a broad chronological and interdisciplinary perspective and involving new materials, the participants have attempted to test the methodological approach of the “cultural transfers” and the effectiveness of their basic concepts (ways of travel, guides, translators, innovation, assimilation of “new” assignments, semantic shifts, etc.) in the Central Asian context. In these studies Central Asia includes mainly the post-Soviet space and its Central Asian neighbors like Siberia, Xinjiang, Afghanistan, Iran and Azerbaijan. The purpose of the collection is to determine the significance of the theory of the “cultural transfers” and, if possible, the range of its applications.

Central Asia and Iran: Greeks, Parthians, Kushans and Sasanians

Dabrowa, Edward (ed.). 2016. Central Asia and Iran: Greeks, Parthians, Kushans and Sasanians (Electrum 22). Krakow: Jagiellonian University Press.

This volume contains 12 studies on political, social, economic, and religious aspects of the history of Central Asia and Iran in the period from the fourth century B.C.E. to the fifth century C.E. by leading specialists in the field. They interpret and reconstructing the region’s past based on various kinds of evidence, including literary, archaeological, linguistic, and numismatic. Some papers present the findings of recent archaeological excavations in Old Nisa and Uzbekistan for the first time.

Table of Contents

Summer school in the Turfanforschung: Sogdians and Turks on the Silk Road

Manichaean priests writing Sogdian manuscripts, in Khocho, Tarim Basin, ca. 8th/9th century AD
Manichaean priests writing Sogdian manuscripts, in Khocho, Tarim Basin, ca. 8th/9th century AD

Summer school in the Turfanforschung:

“Sogdians and Turks on the Silk Road”

August 22 – September 2, 2016

Duration: two weeks, daily four seminars each 90 min.
Location: Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities

 

 

A detailed programme is available here: “Sogdians and Turks on the Silk Road” Summer School”

Participation is free.

The Turfanforschung (Turfan Studies) at the Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities offers in 2016 a summer school providing an introduction to the field of Turfan Studies, which deals with the many languages and scripts used along the Silk Road as well as the histories and cultures of those who used them. The summer school will center around the two main languages of Turfan research. Sogdian, a middle Iranian language, was widely used as a lingua franca in Central Asia since the 1st c. A.C. Old Turkic was the language of Turkic nomads which had a strong influence on the Silk Road since the middle of the 6th c. After the migration of the Uyghurs it was also used as the main language in the Turfan area under Uyghur rule until 14th c.

The courses in this summer school will be given by the staff of the Turfanforschung and the Katalogisierung der Orientalischen Handschriften in Deutschland (Arbeitsstelle Berlin): A. Benkato, D. Durkin-Meisterernst, Y. Kasai, S.- Ch. Raschmann, C. Reck, A. Yakup. There will also be guest lectures by I. Colditz, M. Peyrot and L. Sander.

Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Jägerstraße 22-23,
10117 Berlin

Topics:
1. Scripts

  • Sogdian script
  • Uyghur script
  • Turkic Runic
  • Nestorian script
  • Manichaean script
  • Brāhmī script

2. Language: Old Turkic

  • language course with reading
  • lecture for linguistics

3. Language: Sogdian

  • language course with reading
  • lecture for linguistics

4. Language: Tocharian

5. Turfan studies

  • history of the Turfan expeditions
  • Central Asian book culture
  • history
  • religions
  • research history

Because a minimum number of participants are required for the summer school to take place, we ask for a binding registration by 20th May 2016 at rabuske@bbaw.de or in writing at: Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften AV Turfanforschung, Jägerstraße 22-23, D-10117, Berlin.

 

 

Richard Frye and the Tajiks

Foltz, Richard. 2016. Richard Frye and the history of the Tajiks (Ancient Iran Series 4).

This series is published by the Jordan Center for Persian Studies, University of California, Irvine.

New issue of the Silk Road

The latest issue of The Silk Road features a number of articles relevant to Iranian Studies. The full journal and individual articles can be accessed online:

The Silk Road, vol. 13, 2015.