course spotlight

Post-Soviet Central Asia: From Silk Roads to Pipelines (ML295/ASIA 290)

This course focuses on Post-Soviet Central Asia, namely the republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, as well as the southern part of Russian Siberia. We will examine films and literature from each country as a gateway to their history, culture, and current socioeconomic status. Topics include ethnic, national, and international conflicts, and their relationship to natural resources, environmental problem, and to indigenous cultures and traditions; we will also discuss the impacts of communism and capitalism on the region. We will look at Central Asia’s past and present importance both for Eurasian geopolitics and for US interests, starting in the time of the Silk Roads, through the Great Game of the nineteenth century, the ecological disasters of the twentieth, and up to the turbulent transitional period of the 1990s and the troubled 2000s. Finally, we will study how the complex networks of ethnic and tribal identities, as well as the Soviet legacy, play out in the contemporary national-identity formation process in each respective republic and how these narratives are framed in popular culture. 

The course includes critical readings in history, sociology, and anthropology, political science, and film and literary theory; we will also analyze primary sources: films, novellas, and poems. All readings and films will be available in English; however, knowledge of Russian or a Central Asian language is a plus. A special Russian-language class component is available for Russian Studies minors.


Courses in Russian Studies

R S 400

Independent Readings

Independent readings to be arranged with a member of the Russian Studies faculty. The readings will have a broad multi-disciplinary nature but will be more heavily oriented toward one of the disciplinary areas (language, literature and culture; Russian and East European politics; Russian history), depending upon the back-ground of the instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1/2- 1 course

R S 401

Senior Research

This course is designed to provide research time and supervision for the senior comprehensive requirement in Russian Studies for the major. It carries one credit if , in the judgment of the instructor, the student's research requirements will necessitate that amount of time to complete the comprehensive. Alternatively, one-half credit is granted, if significant preliminary work has emerged from other related courses.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1/2 - 1 course