CANCELLED (rescheduled date TBD) "Religion, Identity, and Competing Visions of Islam in the Post-Soviet World"
For several decades, studying Islam in Central Asia meant beginning with questions, analytical categories, and conceptual frameworks rooted in Soviet and Russian studies; this approach, combined with a lack of basic understanding of the historical experience of Central Asian Muslims prior to the Soviet era, led to host of misconceptions surrounding the character of Muslim religious life in the Soviet era, the impact of Soviet policies and realities, and trends in the renegotiation of religious identities in the post-Soviet age. Recent years have brought, in some circles, growing awareness of the need for approaches drawn from Islamic studies and from a historically-grounded understanding of the history of Muslim religiosity in Central Asia. This lecture will discuss some of the misconceptions rooted in the ‘Sovietological’ approach to Islam in the region, and the lessons to be drawn from viewing the region through the lens of Islamic studies, with a particular focus on the ways in which religiosity was manifested in Soviet times, and on the ways in which religiosity shaped or interacted with notions of ‘national’ identity.
Devin DeWeese is a Professor in the Department of Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University; he earned his Ph.D. at Indiana University in 1985, and has held fellowships from the NEH, ACLS, Guggenheim Foundation, and Carnegie Scholar program. He is the author of Islamization and Native Religion in the Golden Horde: Baba Tükles and Conversion to Islam in Historical and Epic Tradition (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994) and (with Ashirbek Muminov) of the forthcoming Islamization and Sacred Lineages in Central Asia: The Legacy of Ishaq Bab in Narrative and Genealogical Traditions, Vol. I: Opening the Way for Islam: The Ishaq Bab Narrative, 14th-19th Centuries (Almaty: Daik-Press). His numerous articles on the religious history of Islamic Central and Inner Asia focus chiefly on problems of Islamization, on the social and political roles of Sufi communities, and on Sufi literature in Persian and Chaghatay Turkic.