Education About Asia

(culture, history, art, marriage, etc...)

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Feature Article

The Mongolian World Empire: Does It Matter?

I teach a variety of Asian civilization courses, and when we come to the Mongol world empire, students invariably question my credibility. “Pax Mongolica?” they say. “Mongolian Peace? Are you nuts?” “Well, yes,” I am forced to admit, “but not right now and not about this.” When I poll the students about their knowledge of Chinggis Khan (a.k.a Genghis Khan), without exception they report that he was the most irredeemably destructive conqueror of all time. “That’s because all t...

Resources, Web Gleanings

Website Resources: Central Asia

CENTRAL ASIA AND THE SILK ROADS Silk Road Foundation URL: http://tiny.cc/u5go5w For anyone who wants information and historical facts about the Silk Roads, this is a good resource. There are historical chronologies and short biographies of those who traveled the Silk Roads, dating back to 959 BC, timelines, the history of silk, and maps. Silk Road URL: http://tiny.cc/jxj46w Produced by Jeffrey Hays, this site is rich in resources. There are details about the routes, the products,...

Online Supplement

Terrorism in Central Asia: Dynamics, Dimensions, and Sources

Ever since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Central Asia has experienced a deluge of religious activity. All of the Central Asian republics—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan —have seen the rapid construction of new mosques; the opening of madrassas; and a noticeable upswing in Muslim consciousness, evidenced in a marked increase in the practitioners of Islam. Along with moderate and traditional forms of Islam, radical and militant Islamic trends have al...

Feature Article

Ignored Constitutions and Predatory Presidents: Examining Central Asian Authoritarianism

In what turned out to be the waning decades of the Soviet Union, outside observers often suggested that the largely Turkic and Islamic population of Central Asia represented a threat to the USSR. Specifically, many expected that societal demands emanating from the region—whether in the name of nationalism, pan-Turkism, or Islamism—could lead to either a weakening of the Soviet Union or even its dissolution. (note 1) In line with these expectations, there is evidence that in the 1980s two cou...

Feature Article

China in Central Asia: Harmonizing Mackinder’s Heartland

China is currently one of the most consequential actors in Central Asia. As General Liu Yazhou of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) once put it, Central Asia is “the thickest piece of cake given to the modern Chinese by the heavens.” (note 1) China’s strategy in Central Asia is to develop the region as an economic partner; connect East Asia and Western Europe; and create a more prosperous neighborhood with which Xinjiang, China’s westernmost province, can trade. However, develop...

Amir Timur: Paragon of Medieval Statecraft or Central Asian Psychopath?

He was spirited and brave and inspired awe and obedience. He loved bold and brave soldiers by whose aid he opened the locks of terror . . . —Muhammad ibn Arabshah (note 1) Amir Timur (1336-1405) challenges teachers in several ways. How do you present him and medieval Central Asia to students with little previous knowledge? How can world history teachers accomplish this without expending too much of their most limited resource: time? These are tall orders, but one should still consider t...

A Global Crossroads Reemerges in the Twenty-First Century: An Introduction to Central Asia

The Where and Why of Central Asia As a scholar of Central Asia, I have frequently been asked two questions by students and colleagues over the course of my career: Where is Central Asia, and why is it important? Strangely, the first question is often more difficult to answer precisely than the second. The terms “Central Asia,” “Inner Asia,” and more recently “Central Eurasia” all refer to a region that is marked by a frustrating imprecision of location. Here I will consider Central ...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Teaching Multiple Asias: Confessions of a Europeanist Teaching World History

Editor’s Note: A syllabus for the course described in this article is available in the online supplements for this issue. History provides context. Today’s students are growing up in a world where political crises on other continents affect their lives. Tomorrow’s citizens will need an ever-broader array of background knowledge to understand the world around them. History teachers have an opportunity and obligation to provide their students with the context necessary to understand the ...

Feature Article

The “Mundane Violence” of International Water Conflicts

Statistics about water resources abound. Some, like the combined length of rivers in the United States (3.5 million miles), make for interesting but forgettable trivia. Others, like the number of people who experience severe water scarcity each year (four billion), declare an issue of urgent and global concern. The staggering magnitude and profound implications of this water crisis alone are difficult to comprehend, and yet the calamity is even further compounded by climate change and internatio...