In the wake of the Soviet Union’s dissolution and China’s dramatic rise, Central Asia has begun to emerge as a strategic hub linking East and South Asia, Russia, Europe and the Middle East. A new working group initiative – joining interests from the Institute of East Asian Studies, Center for Silk Road Studies, and Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies - aims to bring Central Asia into focus by fostering campus-wide dialogue between faculty, visiting scholars, and graduate students working on the region. For the purposes of this working group, “Central Asia” is loosely defined as the former Soviet Republics (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan), Mongolia, Xinjiang, Tibet, and Afghanistan, and potentially extending into Manchuria and southern Siberia. Through monthly discussions featuring presentations by area scholars and graduate students, the working group will build upon existing synergies and create new interdepartmental dialogues. In addition to providing a "home" for UC Berkeley graduate students and faculty working on the region, the aim of the working group is to build capacity with the view to eventually establishing itself as a focal point for Central Asian studies at UC Berkeley and in North America.