Mantra: a Review Essay on Islam in Soviet Central Asia

In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
Author: Eren Tasar 1
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  • 1 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Abstract

This paper traces the development of the historiography of Islam in Soviet Central Asia from the Cold War’s outset to the present by illustrating its uncritical reproduction of modernist and communist templates for describing Muslim religiosity, and its debt to two foundational frames of Soviet antireligious propaganda: “survivals” and “nationalized Islam.” It highlights the important implications of these frames for this scholarship’s development, i.e., its assumptions concerning “normativity” and the “poverty” of Central Asian Islam, as well as the urban-rural divide’s salience in religious life. The essay concludes with a survey of recent scholarship on the subject.

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