Islamic Central Asia: An Anthology of Historical Sources

Islamic Central Asia: An Anthology of Historical Sources

Islamic Central Asia: An Anthology of Historical Sources

Islamic Central Asia: An Anthology of Historical Sources

Synopsis

Islamic Central Asia is the first English-language anthology of primary documents for the study of Central Asian history. Scott C. Levi and Ron Sela draw from a vast array of historical sources to illustrate important aspects of the social, cultural, political, and economic history of Islamic Central Asia. These documents-many newly translated and most not readily available for study-cover the period from the 7th-century Arab conquests to the 19th-century Russian colonial era and provide new insights into the history and significance of the region.

Excerpt

This anthology is designed primarily to complement an introductory study of Central Asia’s history. in recent years, the awareness of Central Asia’s significance and unique history has grown rapidly among academics, policy makers, and the public. the unexpected increase in books and articles on Central Asia, many of them written by laypersons, has served also to add to the range of courses taught about this subject, mostly by specialists in other areas. Such an outpouring of attention has underlined the need for new pedagogical resources for the instruction of Central Asian history, and has prompted us to compile an anthology of historical sources to serve both the academic and nonacademic communities. the final product includes extracts from a diverse array of sources that illustrate important features of the social, cultural, political, and economic history of Islamic Central Asia. Many of these are original translations, never before available in English, that we have produced ourselves, or solicited our colleagues to contribute.

Geographically, Central Asia stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to East Turkestan (modern-day Xinjiang) in the east, from the Siberian plain in the north to northern Afghanistan and northeastern Iran in the south. Historically, this region has been labeled a crossroads of civilizations. Situated at the heart of the so-called Silk Road, the peoples of Central Asia witnessed numerous invasions, migrations, and exchanges of religions and cultures, goods and technologies. It is the birthplace of famous scientists, theologians, and jurists, and home to the fabled cities of Samarqand, Bukhara, and Khiva, as well as to epic nomadic traditions. Central Asia has been the center of world empires in antiquity and the medieval era, as well as the playing ground for the Anglo-Russian “Great Game” in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Central Asia has been exoticized in the West—and in the East—and has captivated the imagination of many. While emphasizing some of the remarkable aspects of Central Asian history, this anthology also aims to examine the daily lives of people in the region, pointing to periods of great achievements and important transformations on the one hand, as well as crisis, strife, and relative isolation on the other.

As the present volume goes to press, it represents the first anthology of sources for the study of Central Asian history in the English language. It is not, however, the first such anthology ever produced. Those educated in Russian have . . .

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