Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Feature Article

Labor Migration in Central Asia: Will Kazakhstan Be the Anchor for Stability

Labor Migration in Post-Soviet Central Asia The five former Soviet states of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajik­istan, and Turkmenistan may collectively be referred to as Central Asia. In the quarter-century since these countries gained independence, their geo­political importance has become obvious. Not only does this region serve as a classic buffer zone between Russia and the turmoil in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but they also hold large reserves of hydrocarbon and hydroelec­tric ...

Feature Article

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 ...

Feature Article

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

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 their fulfillment. Doing so clearly demonstrates Central Asia’s once pivotal role connecting Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia while introducing a controversial leader whose l...

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.”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, development can...

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. In line with these expectations, there is evidence that in the 1980s two countries wi...

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 als...

Resources, Web Gleanings

Web Gleanings: 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, Samar...

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...

Book Review, Resources

Central Asia: A Global Studies Handbook

SANTA BARBARA: ABC-CLIO, 2005 467 PAGES, HARDBACK, ISBN 1-85109-656-6 Most Americans know little about the vast area called Central Asia. Today it has been arbitrarily redefined as five countries: Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan. Yet, historically, culturally, geographically, and politically, much links this region that further confounds those who want to study about these five countries. Created by Reuel Hanks, Central Asia: A Global Studies Handbook has se...

Feature Article

Muslims at the Crossroads: An Introductory Survey of Historical and Contemporary Aspects of Islam in Central Asia

Central Asia Reemerges Central Asia has reappeared as a player in the ebb and flow of international relations. Ironically, the region the political geographer Halford J. MacKinder called “the geographical pivot of history” in 19041 was for most of the twentieth century consigned to the sidelines, as world wars and their geopolitical aftermath carried other actors to center stage. Yet at many earlier historical junctures, Central Asia had served as a crossroads, linking Asian, European, and ...

Feature Article

The Silk Roads: An Educational Resource

The Silk Roads, an incurably romantic subject which offers a splendid source for secondary school teachers and students alike, linked the civilizations of Eurasia for much of premodern history, starting as early as the second century, B.C.E., if not earlier. China, Central Asia, West Asia, and, to a lesser extent, Europe, were placed in touch with each other via the Silk Roads. The economic significance of their contacts in pre–1500 history may have been exaggerated, but their cultural impact...

Feature Article

Central Asia and “Levels” of Development

Studying development levels and processes is an important aspect of learning about Asia. The Asian continent contains countries that span an incredibly large range of developmental levels—from advanced developed countries, such as Japan, to least developed countries, such as Afghanistan, with some of the fastest growing “newly industrialized” countries in between (e.g., the People’s Republic of China). Often, it is the habit of students (and instructors) to group countries into these thr...

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