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.
Those of us who devote our careers to the history of Islamic Central Asia frequently wonder why scholarly interest in the field remains low. A survey of publicly-available data supports this impression: of the relatively few scholars who self-identify as Central Asianists in the member directories of organizations such as MESA or AAS, only a handful indicate reading skills in pre-modern Arabic-script Turkic-language sources. That is, while there are many people with solid backgrounds in Russian, Persian, and Chinese sources, and some proficient in modern Turkic languages such as Uzbek, very few could conduct primary research in the language of Babur, Navai, and countless scribes: Chaghatay. Continue reading To Build Central Asian Studies, Invite People In: Teach More Chaghatay by Eric Schluessel, University of Montana
(Reposted by agreement with the Exeter Central Asian Studies Network. The original, posted on Oct 3, 2014, can be found here.)< Continue reading From Exeter CASN, Catherine Owen’s “Researchers at Risk: Debating the Dilemmas of Research in Authoritarian Societies”