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Kamran Scot Aghaie, Chair CAL 528 | 204 W 21st St F9400 | Austin, TX 78712-1029 • 512-471-3881

Fall 2006

MES 310 • Introduction to Central Asia

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
42815 MWF
9:00 AM-10:00 AM
UTC 4.134
C Buckley

Course Description

The past 15 years have witnessed the "reemergence of the  STANS" (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan) as countries of potential economic importance and critical geo-political interest.  Similar to the period of the Great Game of the late 1800, developments within the region are strongly influenced by external economic and political interests.  From the time of Marco Polo, through the rule of regional khanates, imperial conquest, state socialist rule, religious revivalism, and most recently the rise of international terrorism, the countries of Central Asia have been at the global cross roads of competing political, economic, social and religious movements.  This course seeks to familiarize students with the region, focusing upon historical and contemporary trends in the relationships between the rulers and the ruled.  Through this focus we can better understand the role of gender in Central Asian societies, the context of ethnic hostilities, and the importance of religion for the seven countries of the region.  Examining these topics through films, readings, and lectures will provide students with the opportunity to better understand civil society in this increasingly important region of the globe.             The course will be divided into three sections.  In the first section, we will focus on, What is Central Asia?, familiarizing ourselves with the basic geography and social settings in the region.  In the second section we will focus on, how can we analyze the region sociologically?, highlighting issues of basic social theory and comparative analysis.  The third section of the course turns to the question, Why does Central Asia matter?, providing participants with the opportunity to link what we have learned about the region and social theory into evaluating global issues concerning human rights, citizenship, identity, and civil society.

Grading Policy

Course evaluation will be based on two hourly examinations and a take home final essay examination.


1. There will be a course packet of readings available for students as well as a course website with links to electronic literature. 2. Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia, Ahmed Rashid 3. Movies and Documentaries: Film: Luna Papa, directed by Bakhtyar Khudojnazarov (Tajikistan) Documentary: Voices of Dissent: A Dance of Passion (Pakistan) Film: The Monkey, Directed by Aktan Abdykalykov (Kyrgystan) Documentary: Naim and Jabar, Documentary Education Resources (Afghanistan)


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