Paving the Way: Ismaʿili Genealogy and Mobility along Tajikistan’s Pamir Highway

In: Journal of Persianate Studies
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Abstract

This article is an ethnographic study of Ismaʿili communities along the Pamir Highway. “The road,” as it is referred to locally, links Southern Kyrgyzstan with settlements in the eastern part of Tajikistan; its construction traces back to Soviet modernization policy. However, the highway’s construction in the course of the twentieth century led not only to a physical, but also a social transformation of the region. Labor migration of Ismaʿili Tajiks to various settlements along the road resulted in ethnically and confessionally mixed communities. Thus, the Pamir Highway as an ethnographic point of reference provides an entry to discussion of topics such as genealogy, identity, diaspora, and the notion of an Ismaʿili heartland.

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