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Christine L. Williams, Chair CLA 3.306, Mailcode A1700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-6300

Fall 2008

SOC 308 • Introduction to Central Asia

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
46465 TTh
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
BUR 216
Buckley

Course Description

Over the past two decades, the Central Asian region has re-emerged as an area of geopolitical, economic, cultural and social importance. Harkening back to the period of the "Great Game" of the late 1800, developments within the region are once again subject to strong external influences from Russia, China, the Middle East, Europe and North America. 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 crossroads of competing political, economic, social and religious movements. This course seeks to familiarize students with the region, focusing upon historical and contemporary patterns in the relationships between the rich and poor, and the powerful and powerless. Through this lens, we can better understand the role of gender in Central Asian societies, the context of ethnic hostilities, and the importance of religion. Examining these topics through films, readings, and lectures this course will provide students the opportunity to gain theoretical insight into processes of social change, and develop basic familiarity with this increasingly important region of the globe.

The course is 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 citizenship rights, gender, ethnicity, poverty, and religion. The course will conclude with an assessment of how social theory can assist our understanding of Central Asia, and how the countries of Central Asia inform and challenge social theory.

Grading Policy

Two In Class Mid Term 20% each
Final Examination 30%
Participation 10%
Short Papers/Film Reviews 20%

Texts

Adeeb Khalid, Islam after Communism: Religion and Politics in Central Asia
Jeff Sahadeo and Russell Zanca, Everyday Life in Central Asia: Past and Present
Course Packet readings posted on Blackboard and available in hard copy

Many over views, maps, and links to useful web sites can be found on the course webpage through Blackboard.
We will view a minimum of 3 films this semester during class. In the case of films longer than the class period, they will be shown on Monday evenings for extra credit (beginning at 7 pm), location and specific dates to be announced. For those unable to attend such screening due to scheduling conflicts please notify the instructor and when possible, alternative arrangements will be made.

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