Central Asia and Caucasus
The projects of our research unit for the next five years offer perspectives in line with former scholarship while strengthening and opening up three research areas. The first area considerably extends the time frame and makes use of both philology and linguistics. The second includes Central Asia and the Caucasus, and favours historical anthropology; the third, combining both regions, comes within the province of ethnology and intellectual sociology.
Research Area 1: Medieval History of Central Asia (4th-16th c.)
Étienne de La Vaissière, while carrying on his teaching at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, will complete a monograph on Medieval Central Asia entitled Espaces et réseaux : l’Asie centrale, IVe–XVIe siècles. He will also publish the proceedings of a recent conference: Shifting Frontiers - Current Issues in the History of Early Islamic Central Asia. For his part, Rémy Dor will start research on the relationships between Central Asia and Tibet through the impact of Tengrist (even Shamanistic) dogmas, doctrine and practices from the Altaic world on the emergence of Bön, the religion that preceded Tibetan Buddhism.
The Timurid Empire (15th-16th c.) is the subject of a joint project led by Alexandre Papas and Thibaut d’Hubert aboutthepolymath ‘Abd al-Rahman Jami. The project will spread over three years with a first symposium in Chicago followed by a second in Paris, and the publication of a collaborative volume in English. The Timurid cultural history will be at the core of Marc Toutant’s research. He contributes to the Jami project and currently prepares a revised version of his PhD dissertation (2014) for publication.
Research Area 2: Identity Constructions and Political Deconstructions (18th-21th c.)
Vincent Fourniau plans to publish a monograph entitled Identités collectives en formation en Asiecentrale, XVIIIe–XIXe siècles. Besides, he will launch a collective project on territoriality and collective identities in Central Asia around 1800, first as a seminar at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Socialesinvolving colleagues from Europe and Central Asia, then as a publication.
Cloé Drieu will focus her work on the early 20th century with two projects. The first one is individual and consists in the drafting of a book devoted to the revolts of 1916. In a larger perspective and in parallel with a joint seminar on the First World War and its consequences both in Central Asia and the Ottoman Empire, Cloé Drieu will discuss the participation of Muslim combatants in both world wars, European civil wars in the 20th century and wars of decolonization.
It is also social history, which motivates the future research of Anne Ducloux, who will analyse the memory of the Soviet war inAfghanistan (1979-1989), as Muslim Uzbek families have kept it twenty-five years later.
After the defence of her dissertation, Ariane Zevaco will lead several projects, of historical as well as anthropological nature, on contemporary Tajikistan and Afghanistan. She will be working on the musicians affiliated to circles, on the sacred musical practices, and on the circles of literary sociability in Tajikistan, this in collaboration with Stéphane A. Dudoignon and in continuity with the “Allah’s kolkhozes” project.
Frédérique Longuet-Marx plans to extend geographically her field to Kabardo-Balkaria, on the basis of fieldworks about radical Islam in collaboration with Kabard scholars. She considers returning to Dagestan to begin a comparative study, in the long run, of the modes of politisation of Islam in various regions of Northern Caucasus, from the late 1980s to the present.
Research Area 3: Islam – New Objects, New Leads
Besides a permanent task of translations of literary works – Caucasian and Central Asian as well as Russian and Iranian –, Stéphane A. Dudoignon will combine with a seminar at the Institut d’Études de l’Islam et des Sociétés du Monde Musulman(with Anne Ducloux, Frédérique Longuet-Marx, Alexandre Papas and Thierry Zarcone) two projects. The first one, individual, is nothing but the completion of a monograph on Soviet Muslim hagiography and the typology of Islamic saints in the USSR. The second one, collaborative, deals with reformed Islam: discourses, networks, and practices from the 18th c. to present.
Edith Ybert will study Muslim reformism in the Caucasus, whereasMuslim reformism in Xinjiang will be the object of specific studies by Alexandre Papas. The latter will also prepare, in the medium term, a short book on the figure of the dervish.
Pushing the boundaries of Central Asian Islam, Stéphane A. Dudoignon will complete a personal monograph in English on theBaluch, Islam and the State in Iran. In the longer term, this study will be extended to all Sunni communities of Iran, through an investigation to be conducted about the rise of Salafism in numerous rural regions of the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Volga-Ural region in European Russia.
Alexandre Papas is currently completing a book with Lisa Ross and Rahilä Dawut on saint veneration in Xinjiang. He will carry on his research on the Salar Muslim minority in Qinghai, by co-authoring with Ma Wei an overview article on the topic.
At a more epistemological level, Stéphane A. Dudoignon, following the project on “the legacy of Soviet Orientalism”, will lead a joint research on the role of the “experts” in the public conduct of religious discourses and practices in the former Soviet space.
Orientalism is equally at the core of Edith Ybert’s investigations which, in line with previous studies, discuss theworks produced in the Caucasus and the life of Russian cultural institutions responsible for the implementation of the Russian “civilizing mission” in the second half of the 19th c.
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