This seminar’s core focus is the politics of Islam and Muslims and the rise of contemporary Islamism and jihadism in Central Asia. In particular, we examine non-state and state terrorism in the five former Soviet republics of Central Asia - Kazkahstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. It focuses primarily on the history and current activity of Al Qa`ida-connected or Al`Qaida-inspired jihadist organizations such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Jihad Union, the Islamic Movement of Turkestan, as well as recently emerged smaller offshoot organizations operating in the region, most notably in Kazakhstan for the first time. The course examines causal factors for the rise of jihadi terrorism in Central Asia and elsewhere such as poverty, failing states, authoritarian regimes, bad governance, the resonance of Islamist ideologies, charismatic authority patterns, and complex network organization and leadership practices. The ties between jihadi terrorists in the five Central Asian states and other global jihadi revolutionary organizations in neighboring states such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia and China as well as in Europe will also be examined. In addition, counter-terrorism and other policies of the authoritarian regimes of Central Asia will looked at, in particular evidence of state terrorism and massive human rights violations spread across most of the region. The remainder of this syllabus’s course schedule will be revised before the beginning of the 2013 spring semester.The ‘Politics and Islam in Russia’ seminar is designed for those interested in the causes and resolution of violent conflict, separatist insurgencies, terrorism, non-proliferation, and comparative Islamic politics. It offers students an in-depth introduction to the role played by Islam and the ‘forgotten Muslims’ of Russia in both domestic, regional, and international politics. Through the careful reading of primary and secondary sources, the seminar’s central purpose is to engage students in a detailed comparative examination of the historical, geographic, ethnic, theological, institutional, and global factors that shape identity politics and frame other political issues for Russia’s Muslims.

Middlebury Institute, CA