Everyday Islam: Religion and Tradition in Rural Central Asia

Everyday Islam: Religion and Tradition in Rural Central Asia

Everyday Islam: Religion and Tradition in Rural Central Asia

Everyday Islam: Religion and Tradition in Rural Central Asia

Synopsis

In chapters rich with previously inaccessible information about marital customs, the upbringing of children, communal decision making, social prestige and values, and the second economy in Central Asia, Poliakov demonstrates the resilience of an un-Soviet way of life supported by underground institutions, fostered by unofficial clergy, and protected through the infiltration and subornation of government and party organs.

Excerpt

The book you are about to read is likely to startle you and may even offend you, but it is certain to change your understanding of Central Asia. These were precisely the goals that Professor Sergei Petrovich Poliakov of Moscow State University--a Russian ethnographer in his mid-fifties and a lifelong member of the Communist party--set for himself in writing it. His aim was to produce a semischolarly account of the findings of more than thirty years of field research in Central Asia that would "stun" the reader into accepting his view of that world and the crisis that threatens it. For this reason I decided not to edit the manuscript to make it conform to American academic norms. Sergei Petrovich is going to speak to you in his own words and describe reality as he sees it. My purpose here is simply to introduce you to both the author and his subject.

The book falls into the genre of what in Russian is called publitsistika. It is a journalistic work insofar as the author is trying to shape opinion, but it is not a work of "communist propaganda." Sergei Petrovich genuinely holds the views he sets forth here. Indeed, this is the first work Poliakov has written that he feels reflects his honest and freely given opinion, for the book is wholly uncensored.

Poliakov feels some urgency to convey his views, for he believes that a deepening demographic crisis in Central Asia indicates a need for fundamental change. He believes Central Asia to be mired down by the weight of traditionalism--that is, by "everyday Islam": the customs, values, and economic practices . . .

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