We are pleased to announce the publication of Vol. 16 (2018) of The Silk Road, an open-access online journal published by the Silkroad Foundation.

The latest volume of The Silk Road brings the production of fresh knowledge and dissemination of exciting new discoveries derived from the lands and peoples who continue to animate the historical rubric of the Silk Road. Our excursion through place and time begins with a fascinating archaeological report by Marina Kulinovskaia and Pavel Leus on recently excavated Xiongnu graves in Tuva, lavishly illustrated with nearly fifty color photographs from the field.

From the first article on Xiongnu graves in Tuva (Fig. 49), a richly adorned tomb of a female corpse with a striking turquoise belt buckle.  Image used with permission from Justin Jacobs.

We are then treated to Jin Noda’s analysis of Japanese intelligence agents in Russian and Qing Inner Asia during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Next up is Zhang Zhan’s in-depth reassessment of ancient Sogdian documents from Khotan and what they can tell us about the status and occupations of these far-flung travelers during the first millennium CE. Zhang’s philological analysis is followed by Li Sifei’s investigation into the complex subject of Chinese perceptions of “Persians” and “Sogdians” during the Northern Zhou, Sui, and Tang dynasties. Marina Rodionova and Iakov Frenkel’ then encourage us to transfer our attention to the other, far less popularized end of the Silk Road, with a detailed case study of how a Mongol-era Chinese celadon made its way to the Novgorod Kremlin in Russia.

The Mongol backdrop plays an even more important role in Samuel Rumschlag’s sophisticated comparison of bow, saddle, and stirrup technology among different nomadic polities throughout Eurasian history. Finally, we have Matteo Compareti’s creative reading of the literary and artistic influences to be found in the painted programs of the great eastern Iranian hero Rustam in the Blue Hall at Panjikent. The issue concludes with reviews of two recent and important books by Susan Whitfield and Donald S. Lopez, Jr., along with detailed notices of other new books compiled—as generously and meticulously as before—by our former editor Daniel Waugh. In addition, Daniel Waugh has also contributed in innumerable other ways to the production of this volume, not least of which were his expert translations into English of the two articles originally co-authored in Russian.

Justin M. Jacobs, Editor

American University

Image of cover used here with permission of Justin Jacobs

The Cotton Republic: Colonial Practices in Soviet Uzbekistan? by Riccardo Mario Cucciolla, Higher School of Economics (HSE)

The history of modern Uzbekistan is inexorably linked with Russian colonialism and the evolution of the Soviet system. This Central Asian territory was the last frontier of Russian imperialism before becoming the Soviet periphery par excellence. In the 1860s, the Russian Empire expanded towards Transoxiana in order to compete with British influence in the region, create a captive market for Russian manufactures, develop trade, and secure a source of cotton. Indeed, since the imperial era, this latter element, one characteristic of the history of modern industry, has been the pivot on which center-periphery relations were based in political, economic, military, and social terms, defining the colonial ties between Moscow and Tashkent. This was a relationship that, in different forms, would last until 1991.

Continue reading The Cotton Republic: Colonial Practices in Soviet Uzbekistan? by Riccardo Mario Cucciolla, Higher School of Economics (HSE)

Author Interview: Film and Identity in Kazakhstan, by Rico Isaacs (Oxford Brookes University)

Many thanks to Moldiyar Yergebekov (Suleyman Demirel University),  for his questions and dialogue with Rico Isaacs about the book Film and Identity in Kazazkhstan: Soviet and Post-Soviet Culture in Central Asia, published in 2018 by I.B. Tauris.

Continue reading Author Interview: Film and Identity in Kazakhstan, by Rico Isaacs (Oxford Brookes University)

Safer and fairer: The value of cooperative approaches to fieldwork by Philipp Lottholz, University of Marburg

Recent pieces on reflexivity and the role of emotions during fieldwork on this platform have made it abundantly clear that fieldwork in foreign countries can be very challenging and brings up multiple questions and dilemmas that researchers need to navitage. A recent contribution by Mohira Suyarkulova on the Central Asian context has extended the critical view on fieldwork by pointing out that, in order to counter extractive forms of knowledge production that serve to orientalise the region, fieldwork should be an engagement on an equal footing with subjects. Embracing such an approach, argued Suyarkulova, can help to inverse the usual hierarchies of academic research and make it an endeavour of emancipation and liberation.

Continue reading Safer and fairer: The value of cooperative approaches to fieldwork by Philipp Lottholz, University of Marburg

Workshop CFP: State-Citizenship Relations in Greater Central Asia

Type: International workshop

Date: October 18-19

Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Globalization and its attendant rapid socio-economic and political transformations have substantially redefined the way we see both the state and the institute of citizenship. The most prosaic debates have revolved around the idea of a decapitated or thinned state, which has lost significant authority to global capital circulations, corporate interests, international law, and the very internationalization of government through the growth of international institutions and agencies. The institute of citizenship has also been redefined in this context, with space created for an assumption of instrumentality. The function of citizenship is seen to enclose greater flexibility, mobility, and access to markets and safety, thus shedding some of the concept of loyalty to the political bodies that have produced it through laws.

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