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His 594 Modern & Contemporary History of Central Asia The Ohio State University Spring 2008

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Alexandre Papas

Address: 367 Dulles Hall


HIS 594
Modern & Contemporary History of Central Asia

The Ohio State University

Spring 2008


This course will introduce students to the modern and contemporary history of Central Asia. The introduction will discuss each term of the topic: the period, going from the seventeenth century to the present day; the sources, a wide range of multilingual written or field data; the area, covering the five Central Asian Republics and Xinjiang Autonomous Region in China. While following a chronological order, tracking individual careers, and exposing the basic political background, we will avoid as much as possible any factual scenario of the history of Central Asia. We will rather underline trends and turning points, such as the colonization process, Nationalism, the Soviet and the Maoist impacts, and the ambivalence of independences and regional autonomies. Lastly, the course will consider long-term (longue durée in French) phenomena in the modern history of Central Asia, that is the slow evolutions of society against the course of events. In this regard, we will not abstain from coming and going between the modern or contemporary period and the past situation in the region (see, for instance, the saintly-lineages in Post-Timurid courts and in the Uzbek administration today).

Course objectives:

Lectures will be accompanied by iconographic sources (maps, photography, and personal records) in order to familiarize students with Central Asia, its modern times as well as the specific tasks of the historian of non-western areas. Another objective of this course is to provide students with a clear overview of the cultural and historical features that define the modern Central Asia, in contrast to the bordering regions (Russia, China, India). Students who complete the course with success will be well-equipped to carry on further study on Eurasia in general. And naturally, this course complements with the one devoted to medieval Central Asia (to be taught in winter 2008). The course aims to develop students’ critical analysis through the study of different types of primary and secondary sources. Moreover, students will learn to understand the wide historical process as much as the complexity of historical issues.

Within the history major, this is a post-1750, Group XX course.


1/ Attendance and Participation: You are required to attend the lectures and be responsible for the material covered in them. You are expected to participate in our discussions, and your participation grade will be based on attendance and your regular contributions to class discussions. Please come to class on time so that you do not cause unnecessary disruption for your fellow classmates. (20%)

2/ Exam 1: This hour-long exam will include a map quiz, short questions and an essay question covering the material from the lectures, discussions, and readings. (25%)
3/ Exam 2: This hour-long exam will include short questions and an essay question covering the material from the lectures, discussions, and readings. (25%)
4/ Final Exam: This two hour long exam will consist in a comprehensive essay question. The final will be given at the University scheduled date and time. (30%)


1/ Examinations and Writing Assignments: There will be three exams in connection with this course: two hourly exams and a final exam. These exams will require you to synthesize materials from lecture, class discussions, and readings. There also will be quizzes. You must take the exams and quizzes at the scheduled time. Students will be allowed to take a make-up exam only for urgent reasons, such as a medical or legal emergency. In accordance with departmental policy, the student will be expected to present proof of the emergency, such as an official statement from the University Medical Center. If you need to take a make-up exam, you must submit your proof of emergency to me within 9 days of the scheduled exam. All make up work is to be completed by the last day of classes.

2/ Grade complaints must be made in writing and only after 24 hours have passed after grades are distributed.
3/ It is the responsibility of the Committee on Academic Misconduct to investigate or establish procedures for the investigation of all reported cases of student academic misconduct. The term “academic misconduct” includes all forms of student academic misconduct wherever committed; illustrated by, but not limited to, cases of plagiarism and dishonest practices in connection with examinations. Instructors shall report all instances of alleged academic misconduct to the committee (Faculty Rule 3335-5-487). For additional information, see the Code of Student Conduct (
4/ In accordance with departmental policy, all students must be officially enrolled in the course by the end of the second full week of the quarter. No requests to add the course will be approved by the department chair after that time. Enrolling officially and on time is solely the responsibility of each student.
5/ Please turn of cell-phones at the beginning of class.
6/ Students with disabilities that have been certified by the Office for Disability Services will be appropriately accommodated, and should inform the instructor as soon as possible of their needs. The Office for Disability Services is located in 150 Pomerene Hall, 1760 Neil Avenue; telephone 292-3307, TDD 292-0901;

Reading list:
James Millward, Eurasian Crossroads. A History of Xinjiang.

Svat Soucek, A History of Inner Asia.

Arminius Vambery, Travels in Central Asia.

Lecture and Reading Schedule:
1 General presentation

Introduction to the modern history of Central Asia

2 From Modern to Contemporary Central Asia

Denis Sinor, “Rediscovering Central Asia”, Diogenes, 51/4, 2004, pp. 7-19.
3 Making history of Modern Central Asia

Presentation of primary and secondary sources

Arminius Vambery, Travels in Central Asia, Ch. 5-6
4 On the eve of Modernity: the political situation of the region

Arminius Vambery, Travels in Central Asia, Ch. 9-11

The colonization of Central Asia

5 Russians settle in the Steppe

Svat Soucek, A History of Central Asia, pp. 177-208

Arminius Vambery, Travels in Central Asia, Ch. 17-19.

6 The Sino-Manchu conquest of the West
James Millward, Eurasian Crossroads, pp. 88-115

7 The resistance movements: Khojas, Ishans, etc.

James Millward, Eurasian Crossroads, pp. 116-136
8 Exam I

The Nationalist phase and the Red Revolutions

9 From Russian Turkestan to the Soviet Republics of Central Asia

Svat Soucek, A History of Central Asia, pp. 209-224
10 From Chinese Turkestan to Xinjiang

James Millward, Eurasian Crossroads, pp. 136-237

11 Revolutionary and Muslim intellectuals of Central Asia

Adeed Khalid, The Politics of Muslim Cultural Reform: Jadidism in Central Asia, Ch. 3.

12 Video or Photographic historical documents (Prokudin, Dudin, Penson, Rupert)

Twentieth century Central Asia: Socialism, Islam and society

13 The Cultural Revolution in Xinjiang

Donald Mc Millen, Chinese Communist Power and Policy in Xinjiang, 1949-1977, Part 4.
14 Implementing Socialism in Central Asian republics

Olaf Caroe, Soviet Empire: The Turks of Central Asia and Stalinism (ed. 1967, not 1953), ch. 11-12.

15 1980’s in Xinjiang: the opening

James Millward, Eurasian Crossroads, pp. 276-306.

16 Devout societies vs. impious states?

Bakhtyar Babadjanov, “Debates over Islam in Contemporary Uzbekistan: A View from Within”, in Devout Societies vs. Impious States? Transmitting Islamic Learning in Russia, Central Asia and China, through the Twentieth Century, pp. 39-60.

17 Exam II

Post-Soviet and Post-Maoist Central Asia

18 Five new republics

Svat Soucek, A History of Inner Asia, pp. 275-295.

Sergei Abashin, “Gellner, the ‘Saints’ and Central Asia: Between Islam and Nationalism”, Inner Asia 7/1, 2005, pp. 65-86.

19 Xinjiang today

James Millward, Eurasian Crossroads, pp. 322-352.

Dru C. Gladney, « The Chinese Program of Development and Control, 1978-2001 », in Xinjiang: China’s Muslim Borderland, pp. 101-119.

Final examination

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