Main Fields of Study
The main areas of study are defined as the vast landlocked area situated in the heart of the Eurasian landmass that includes the republics of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Northeastern Iran, Mongolia, as well as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China. From the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE) onwards the trade routes, retrospectively named by the German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen the Silk Routes, witnessed a lively exchange of goods, technologies and ideas between the great agrarian empires of East Asia and West Eurasia. Following the decline of the large nomadic empires which temporarily united nomadic and sedentary groups into one vast polity, in the late nineteenth century the region became the stage where the expansionist interests of the great colonial powers Russia and Great Britain clashed in what became known as the 'Great Game'. Following the inclusion of much of Central Asia into the Russian Empire (and later in the Soviet Union) as well as into China, these parts became inaccessible to foreign researchers for over 70 years. The fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of the new independent “-stan” states (see above) in the late twentieth century as well as the general acceptance of the market economy all over the region, including China, opened up new possibilities both for the ethnographic study of contemporary Central Asia and for archival research into its history.
Students will be initiated into ongoing scholarly debates on current issues in various disciplines of the humanities and the social sciences, while at the same time acquiring specialized regional knowledge with a strong historical dimension. Equal attention will be paid to research based on ethnographic fieldwork and archival sources as well as to the macro-analyses provided by political scientists, economists and regional experts. Courses will include lectures and seminars on historical and contemporary issues both as local and as transnational phenomena embedded in the broader Eurasian context.
- Central Asia and Afghanistan Studies is offered as a BA-level elective programme.
Language of Instruction
All courses are taught in English.
You can find a list of current and upcoming courses taught in English on the Faculty’s course catalogue.