Ainur Begim Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Russian & East European Studies

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4400 WWPH
Phone: 412-648-7407

Aina is a sociocultural anthropologist with research and teaching interests in economic and political anthropology, natural resources, finance, entrepreneurship, gender, Soviet and post-Soviet Eurasia. Her dissertation research, supported by the National Science Foundation, concerns financial markets, oil politics, and the state in Central Asia. She is currently developing a book manuscript based on her dissertation. Aina received her B.A. from Bates College, an M.Phil. and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Yale University.

Central Asia in the World

Undergraduate Seminar. Frequently conceived as a politically and economically isolated region, Central Asia, past and present, is in fact defined by movement of people, financial flows, and trade networks that embed Central Asia within the global economy. In the past Central Asian cities, located on the path of the Silk Road, were key nodes of trade, communication, and innovation, connecting the East and West. Today vast natural resources of Central Asia power the Chinese economy, and with its proximity to the Middle East, Central Asia is central to geopolitical games played by Russia, China, the United States, and the European Union. In this course, we will examine these contemporary global linkages anthropologically by reading ethnographic accounts of contemporary Central Asia as a ways to understand how people from the region experience and navigate profound economic and political transformations that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. We will read anthropological studies of the region alongside journalistic accounts and political science analyses of Central Asia as well as classic and contemporary social theory. The goals of the course are the following: (1) to complicate the grand narratives of nationalist revival, Islamic radicalization, and postsocialist transition; (2) to think afresh about issues of modernity, statehood, and development in the region; and (3) to place Central Asia within the broader global context. In this course, Central Asia is broadly defined as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Xinjiang (China), Turkic Siberia (Russia), and Western Mongolia.