Central Asia Working Group

Central Asia Working Group

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. After two decades as a relative backwater, this region's geography and natural resources have attracted significant energy and infrastructure investments from a new generation of trade and development partners, which includes China, Europe, the United States, and high-income Asian countries. In academia, however, Central Asia still lacks the recognition it deserves, remaining peripheral to more traditional area interests in China, Russia, Iran, etc.

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.