Being Muslim in Central Asia

Practices, Politics, and Identities


Volume Editor:
This volume explores the changing place of Islam in contemporary Central Asia, understanding religion as a “societal shaper” – a roadmap for navigating quickly evolving social and cultural values. Islam can take on multiple colors and identities, from a purely transcendental faith in God to a cauldron of ideological ferment for political ideology, via diverse culture-, community-, and history-based phenomena. The volumes discusses what it means to be a Muslim in today’s Central Asia by looking at both historical and sociological features, investigates the relationship between Islam, politics and the state, the changing role of Islam in terms of societal values, and the issue of female attire as a public debate. Contributors include: Aurélie Biard, Tim Epkenhans, Nurgul Esenamanova, Azamat Junisbai, Barbara Junisbai, Marlene Laruelle, Marintha Miles, Emil Nasritdinov, Shahnoza Nozimova, Yaacov Ro'i, Wendell Schwab, Manja Stephan-Emmrich, Rano Turaeva, Alon Wainer, Alexander Wolters, Galina M. Yemelianova, Baurzhan Zhussupov

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“This volume includes contributions from a broad selection of scholars who have sought to enrich our understanding of Islam in Central Asia through in-depth empirical studies.”

“very recommendable as an introduction to what it means to be Muslim in Central Asia and to some of the important works that have been done recently to deepen our understanding of the question.”

Maria Louw, Aarhus University, in Anthropos 115

"a comprehensive study focusing on the place of Islam in contemporary Central Asia [...] This book is unreservedly recommended to researchers in this field. As a work characterised by novel ideas and critical thinking, it makes a fresh and serious contribution to the understanding of Islam in the Central Asian region and especially to ongoing developments in its transformation."

Gulnar Nadirova and Dauren Aben, International Kazakh-Turkish University, in Europe-Asia Studies 72.4
List of Figures and Tables Notes on Contributors Introduction   Marlene Laruelle Part 1: What Does It Mean to Be a Muslim in Today’s Central Asia? 1 How ‘Muslim’ are Central Asian Muslims? A Historical and Comparative Enquiry   Galina Yemelianova 2 Two Countries, Five Years: Islam in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan Through the Lens of Public Opinion Surveys   Barbara Junisbai, Azamat Junisbai, and Baurzhan Zhussupov 3 Uzbekness and Islam: A Survey-based Analysis of Identity in Uzbekistan   Yaacov Roʾi and Alon Wainer Part 2: Islam, Politics, and the State 4 The Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan: Episodes of Islamic Activism, Postconflict, Accommodation, and Political Marginalization   Tim Epkenhans 5 Power, “Original” Islam, and the Reactivation of a Religious Utopia in Kara-Suu, Kyrgyzstan   Aurélie Biard 6 Islamic Finance and the State in Central Asia   Alexander Wolters Part 3: Islam in Evolving Societies and Identities 7 Visual Culture and Islam in Kazakhstan: The Case of Asyl Arna’s Social Media   Wendell Schwab 8 Playing Cosmopolitan: Muslim Self-fashioning, Migration, and (Be-)Longing in the Tajik Dubai Business Sector   Manja Stephan-Emmrich 9 Informal Economies in the Post-Soviet Space: Post-Soviet Islam and Its Role in Ordering Entrepreneurship in Central Asia   Rano Turaeva Part 4: Female Attire as a Public Debate 10 The War of Billboards: Hijab, Secularism, and Public Space in Bishkek   Emil Nasritdinov and Nurgul Esenamanova 11 Hijab in a Changing Tajik Society   Shahnoza Nozimova 12 Switching to Satr: An Ethnography of the Particular in Women’s Choices in Head Coverings in Tajikistan   Marintha Miles Bibliography Index
All interested in post-Soviet societies, especially Central Asian ones, and in the social, political and cultural evolutions of Islam in Eurasia.
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