Introduction to the modern history of the Islamic republics of Iran and Afghanistan and the secular republics of Central Asia from 1750 to 2001. Includes discussion of colonialism, the role of the U.S., and diaspora and exile in these predominantly Muslim societies.
Muslim societies in the the Islamic republics of Iran and Afghanistan and the secular post-soviet republics of Central Asia share the memory of a long common history. This lecture explores the foundations and conditions of change in the modern history of these societies. The story begins with the failure of the last attempt to establish an empire comprising the entire area in the middle of the 18th century and leads through the period of intensive imperialist interference in the 19th century (the so-called "Great Game") to the emergence of the modern territorial nation states of Iran and Afghanistan and the republics of Soviet Central Asia in the inter-war period. The last third of the quarter is devoted to the second half of the 20th century. The narrative is structured chronologically by major political events that often involve external actors and global developments, such as the CIA-led coup in Iran in 1953 and the dramatic year 1979 (Islamic revolution in Iran, Soviet occupation of Afghanistan). The lecture will, however, attempt to look at this history from the perspective of the societies of Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. One question that runs through the course is how the way people imagined and rationalized community and society changed. We will critically challenge contemporary notions of ethnicity, identity and modernity that are commonly employed to explain current conflicts.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Lecture, classroom discussion.
Class assignments and grading
Primary and secondary readings, one research paper (12-15 pp.), weekly digest of current events in Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgystan and Tajikistan from selected internet media sources.
Map quiz 10%, midterm exam 25%, final exam 30%, research paper 35%