In this paper I trace sanitation, education, and cultural enlightenment practices in early Soviet Tajikistan, and reassess the role of red teahouses in addressing drug use and other health issues in the country. I examine the assertions of Soviet historians and physicians by drawing on extensive archival records from Russia and Tajikistan and local newspapers published in Tajikistan in the 1930s, and in doing so accentuate an alternative account that illustrates the limits of Soviet undertakings and the appalling gaps between the aspirations of Soviet leaders and reality. Red teahouses failed both to focus on health challenges and to tackle the use of narcotic intoxicants in early Soviet Tajikistan. The majority of these new Soviet facilities functioned as commercial socio-gastronomic entities until the late 1930s and beyond, rather than spreading health propaganda and engaging in the cultural construction and enlightenment of the Tajik people.
The armed rebellion of Deputy Defense Minister Abduhalim Nazarzoda in September 2015 was a critical moment in the post-war history of Tajikistan. The rebellion, which the government blamed on the Islamic Renaissance Party, formed the justification for the Supreme Court to classify the party as a terrorist organization and arrest its leadership. While the government framed the events as a coup attempt, supported by the IRPT, the narrative had inconsistencies and Nazarzoda had been loyal to the state since the end of the civil war. Using the ideas of Carl Schmitt, who argued that sovereignty lies in the ability of a strong executive to monopolize decision-making, define when there is an emergency, and how to resolve it. In this case, president Rahmon used the the sense of emergency and threat created by the “coup” attempt to dismantle the IRPT and then have himself legally declared “Leader of the Nation.”
Kyrgyzstan has experienced a rapid and diverse expansion of religious educational offerings in the past two decades and presents a fascinating regional case study of the development of Islamic education. Based on a rich ethnographic study, this article explores recently developed processes by which madrasa-based knowledge is established and transmitted. In revealing these processes, the article draws attention to political struggles for control over the transmission of religious knowledge between state and non-state actors on the one hand, and religious actors on the other. It further delves into the material and spiritual world of madrasas as perceived by students motivated to gain education and their families. In the final section, it uncovers how different madrasas use religious education, under the varied concept of ‘service to community’, to establish and maintain networks of graduates, which are necessary to the further rooting of Islamic fellowships into society, politics and the economy.
Internationalization transformed the way Higher Education (HE) is provided. Used correctly, internationalization can bring a useful exchange of services and resources into a country’s HE sector. Although there is a growing body of research on HE internationalization broadly, current scholarship overlooks the correlation of excessive reliance on opening of foreign university branches as a way to internationalize the HE sector and the development of the local HE system. This research thus provides the first insights into how the internationalization of HE may not necessarily solve a developing country’s problems in the local HE sector. Using the case of Uzbekistan, it argues that, in the absence of systematic reforms in the local HE system, HE reform that over-relies on the imported internationalization in the form of foreign university branches is not sustainable. Such “franchise” or “imported” internationalization does not contribute to the development of local HE system.
In the 2000s, Al-Qaeda, represented by the Caucasus Emirate, took over the first Chechen resistance, as well as local Islamist armed groups in Dagestan and other republics of the North Caucasus. However, a decade later, the Islamic State won the competition with Al-Qaeda, by including the involvement of women in its project. Hundreds of Russian-speaking Muslim women followed men to live by the rules of Islam. Some joined their husbands or children. Others travelled to the Islamic State in pursuit of love and romance with future husbands they had met on the internet. Based on exclusive interviews done with women detained in the Roj detention camp in the Kurdish territories in northeastern Syria near the Iraqi border, this article analyzes some of the trajectories that has pushed young North Caucasian women to the Syrian war theater in the name of love.
This paper explores the issue of informal payments in the education sector. State underinvestment in education has significantly increased the scope of informal payments in the post-independence period. The authorities of Kazakhstan have legalized informal payments by introducing Councils of Trustees, creating open school budget accounts, and making changes in the distribution of public expenditures. Although these measures have reduced informal payments in schools, the money received from parents is still an important part of school budgets.
This article examines the politics of bureaucratization of Islam that the Azerbaijani government initially implemented in the mid-2000s and which has intensified after 2011. First, the state superimposed its bureaucratic categories on the Muslim communities of the country. Then, it proceeded to transform local religious figures into state employees. Yet, at the same time, the government insists that it does not interfere into theological issues and that all of its bureaucratic initiatives are aimed at ensuring freedom of belief and protecting the public order. However, with time, the process of bureaucratization has shifted from regulation to a direct administrative and ideological intervention into the religious space aimed at creating a state-imagined “orthodoxy” designated as traditional Islam. This article draws on previously untapped primary sources to discuss the different ideological and political aspects of this bureaucratically initiated tradition and its pervasive and transformative influence on the local religious landscape.