Since the demise of Soviet power, the newly independent republics are redefining their identities and their relations with the world at large. In Central Asia, which lies at the crossroads of several cultures, the emerging trends are complex and ambiguous. In this volume leading experts explore factors that have driven the region's historical development and that continue to define it today: Overlapping Islamic, Russian, and steppe cultures and their impact on attempts to delimit national borders and to create independent states; the legacy of Soviet and earlier imperial rule in economic and social relations', and the competition between Uzbek, Tajik, and other group identities. The authors make few predictions, but their original and thought-provoking analyses offer readers new insight into those aspects of Central Asia's past that may shape its future.
Preface -- Introduction -- Historical Background -- The Shaping of Central Asian Identities and Politics -- The Legacy of the Mongols -- The Symbiosis of Turk and Tajik -- Central Asia as a Part of the Modern Islamic World -- Volga Tatars in Central Asia, 18th–20th Centuries: From Diaspora to Hegemony -- Religion and Ethnic Relations in 20th-Century Central Asia -- Soviet Uzbekistan: State and Nation in Historical Perspective -- Tajiks and the Persian World -- Underdevelopment and Ethnic Relations in Central Asia -- The Influence of Islam in Post-Soviet Kazakhstan -- Central Asia and Russia -- Commensals or Parasites? Russians, Kazakhs, Uzbeks, and Others in Central Asia -- Post-Soviet Central Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States: The Economic Background of Interdependence