Category Archives: Central Asia

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

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.

Continue reading Workshop CFP: State-Citizenship Relations in Greater Central Asia

The Central Eurasianist Current of the 2018 Modern Rivers of Eurasia Symposium by Patryk Reid, University of Pittsburgh

A growing current within Central Eurasian Studies covers water—and for good reason. Scholarly analysis of human-water relationships in such areas as history, culture, and political economy can produce new understandings of the past and the present.  Since ancient times, communities of this region have survived by successfully locating and distributing aquatic resources. Today, this task involves higher stakes than ever: local governments’ continuous mismanagement of rivers over the last century caused the Aral Sea to shrink by 90 percent, along with other untold lesser-known harms; now, climate change and mining are doing away with the very glaciers sustaining Central Eurasia’s precious waterways.

Continue reading The Central Eurasianist Current of the 2018 Modern Rivers of Eurasia Symposium by Patryk Reid, University of Pittsburgh

Last Lament of a Fallen Dynasty: Bukhara, Shahrisabz, and a Curious Nineteenth-Century Persian Document by James Pickett, University of Pittsburgh

Here’s a puzzle:

In Kunduz (now northern Afghanistan) the Friday sermon was read in the name of the ruling dynasty of Bukhara rather than the local Qataghan dynasts, at least during the 1850s. The Friday sermon (khuṭba) has been an Islamic symbol of sovereignty for over a thousand years. However, Bukharan troops had never set foot in Kunduz, nor had they extracted resources from that territory (at least during the reign of the Manghits, 1747-1920).

Continue reading Last Lament of a Fallen Dynasty: Bukhara, Shahrisabz, and a Curious Nineteenth-Century Persian Document by James Pickett, University of Pittsburgh

Yiwu and Transnational Traders: Intersections along Eurasia, Central, South and West Asia, by Diana Ibañez Tirado (University of Sussex)

If you are reading this blog in your office or at home, look around you. It is probable that you are surrounded by a myriad of objects of everyday use imported from China, even if the production process of the products themselves has been completed outside of China: pens, ink, memory sticks, mouse pads, brush and dustpan, safety pins, spoons, handbag, umbrella, the foil paper in your kitchen, your socks, your clothes’ buttons, zipper or bra’s underwire – and the list goes on. How were these items sourced? Who was responsible from bringing them to the shop where you finally purchased them? What type of exchanges, transactions, mobilities and circulations of people, knowledge, money, value, goods, ideas and emotions have been implicated in the trajectories of such goods? Continue reading Yiwu and Transnational Traders: Intersections along Eurasia, Central, South and West Asia, by Diana Ibañez Tirado (University of Sussex)