Islam in Central Asia and the Caucasus Since the Fall of the Soviet Union
A tour d’horizon of the role Islam plays in politics and the private sphere in Central Asia and the Caucasus.
With the end of the Soviet Union in 1991, a major turning point in all former Soviet republics, Central Asian and Caucasian countries began to reflect on their history and identities. As a consequence of their opening up to the global exchange of ideas, various strains of Islam and trends in Islamic thought have nourished the Islamic revival that had already started in the context of glasnost and perestroika—from Turkey, Iran, the Arabian Peninsula, and from the Indian subcontinent; the four regions with strong ties to Central Asian and Caucasian Islam in the years before Soviet occupation.
Bayram Balci seeks to analyse how these new Islamic influences have reached local societies and how they have interacted with pre-existing religious belief and practice. Combining exceptional erudition with rare first-hand research, Balci’s book provides a sophisticated account of both the internal dynamics and external influences in the evolution of Islam in the region.
Bayram Balci is a researcher at CERI Sciences Po, Paris. He holds degrees in political science and Islamic studies and was Director of the French Institute for Central Asian Studies, Uzbekistan (2006-10). A visiting scholar at Carnegie, Washington, DC (2011 and 2014), Balci’s research focuses on Islam in Turkey, Central Asia, and the Caucasus.
‘A sophisticated account of the evolution of Islam in Central Asia and Azerbaijan since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Balci’s nuanced analysis reveals a region marked by great diversity and innovativeness.’—Adeeb Khalid, Professor of Asian Studies and History, Carleton College
‘Under Soviet rule the long tradition of Islam in Central Asia and the Caucasus was all but destroyed, yet today it is re-emerging with extraordinary vigour. Balci brings first-hand experience to his analysis of this process, expertly highlighting the diverse (often contradictory) internal and external influences that are at play.’ — Shirin Akiner, Research Associate, SOAS and author of Islamic Peoples of the Soviet Union
‘Sheds new light on little-known but powerful movements, namely Saudi and Indian Wahhabism, Tablighi Jamaat and the Gülen movement.’—Thierry Zarcone, CNRS Research Director