Program on Central Asia and the Caucasus

Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University

In 1993, Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies jointly initiated an effort to enhance Central Asian Studies at the University.  This was a response in part to the increasing importance of the former Soviet Muslim regions on the world scene following the break-up of the Soviet Union … (full text, Introduction).

Homepage with latest news and upcoming events;
General Information;
Central Asian Studies at Harvard;
Related links;
See also the old website (all other pages are available through links from inside of this page);
Contact: Program on Central Asia and the Caucasus, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, 1730 Cambridge Street Rm S-320, Cambridge, MA 02138, e-mail, Tel. 617-496-2643, Fax. 617-495-8319

Focus and Goals of the Program: Central Asia defies any neat definition.  The primary focus of the Program on Central Asia and the Caucasus is on the newly independent, former-Soviet Central Asian republics of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.  However, just as these countries are intimately related to surrounding regions, the Program is intended to be a resource for scholars studying such areas as the Caucasus, the Muslim and Turkic regions of Southern Russia and Western China, and the northern parts of Afghanistan and Iran.

For many, Central Asia is most strongly associated with the remote historical times of Chinggis Khan, Tamerlane, and the Great Silk Road.  While recognizing the great significance of this region in world history, and the crucial importance of history for the contemporary study of the region, the chief goal of the Program on Central Asia and the Caucasus is to promote an understanding of the social, cultural, political, and economic issues facing Central Asia today.  The key problems confronting the Central Asian states as they adjust to their new status as independent countries include: establishing new political structures, building self-sufficient economies, and seeking new national identities.

The Program on Central Asia and the Caucasus takes a multi-disciplinary approach to addressing these and related issues, and in general contributes to the improvement of scholarship on Central Asia in the Harvard community as well as in Central Asia.  Thus, the goals of the Program are to:

  • Enhance training opportunities at Harvard for undergraduates, graduate students, and returning professionals to develop the fundamental knowledge, linguistic skills, and analytical approaches necessary to understand and investigate the important issues facing the Central Asian region.
  • Foster a scholarly environment which is conducive to fruitful discussion and research on the Central Asian region.
  • Bring speakers and visiting scholars to Harvard — including especially scholars from Central Asia, the Caucasus and related regions — whose visits bring about mutually beneficial intellectual exchange and the opportunity to apply Harvard’s resources toward important research.
  • Provide financial and practical support for collaborative research projects involving Harvard scholars and their Central Asian and Caucasian colleagues, thus promoting unique research opportunities in Central Asia, and benefiting scholarship in institutions in the region by exposure to new ideas and Western approaches.
  • Contribute to the dissemination and refinement of knowledge of the Central Asian region through support for public forums and publications, including contributions which introduce the region to a non-specialized audience, which build a foundation for study in this underdeveloped field, and which help the knowledge of specialists to serve the practical ends of business, government, and international development.
  • Help bring scholarship to bear on the resolution of the pressing social problems facing the region after the collapse of the Soviet system and the advent of a new period in Central Asian history.

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