HISTORY 340 - From Genghis Khan to the Taliban: Modern Central Asia
Winter 2022, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: History (HISTORY)
Department: LSA History
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Requirements & Distribution:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 1/5/22 - 4/19/22 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


More than 500 years ago, the Silk Road famously connected traders from all over the world, linking the major cities of China and Southeast Asia with those of Europe and Africa. Vast wealth traveled this route, wending across the mountains and steppes of Central Asia, creating rich and sophisticated towns along the way. Bukhara and Samarkand became two of the world's greatest cities, enviable centers of learning and culture.

  • How did Central Asia go from being the most cosmopolitan place on earth to an area now seen as one of the most isolated, remote places in the world?
  • How did a region where a dizzying array of cultures had long intermingled and coexisted peacefully become a place associated (at least in Western eyes) with intolerance and terrorism?

This course tries to answer such questions by providing an overview of modern Central Asian history. Using both lecture and discussion, it focuses on the colonial and post-colonial periods of the last 300 years: especially in Russian and Soviet Central Asia, but also the neighboring areas dominated by Britain and China (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Xinjiang). It offers a strong emphasis on the links and connections across these political borders, which were at first largely artificial and porous but which became crucially important and shaped local communities in deeply divergent ways. It also emphasizes social and cultural history, as a complement and counterweight to the usual political frameworks and classic grand narratives of khans, revolutions, and wars. Three themes structure the course:

  1. the fragmented, changing character of regional identities;
  2. the complexities of popular attitudes towards, and relations with, various forms of state power; and
  3. the differences between — and the complicated economic, environmental, political, artistic, and cultural legacies of — the major imperial systems (Russian, British, Chinese).

Students will be evaluated on their class contributions as well as written work (short essays and class exercises) and two exams.

Course Requirements:

Two short papers, midterm, final

Intended Audience:

Open to all


HISTORY 340 - From Genghis Khan to the Taliban: Modern Central Asia
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM
1/5/22 - 4/19/22
002 (DIS)
 In Person
W 3:00PM - 4:00PM
1/5/22 - 4/19/22
005 (DIS)
 In Person
Th 1:00PM - 2:00PM
1/5/22 - 4/19/22
006 (DIS)
 In Person
Th 2:00PM - 3:00PM
1/5/22 - 4/19/22

Textbooks/Other Materials

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