American University of Central Asia - AUCA - GLOBAL BORDERLANDS


The Global Borderlands project is meant to coordinate expertise on borderland areas and those indeterminate spaces in which local and more distinctly colonial and/or global traditions have collided. Funded by the Open Society Universities Network (OSUN), the project examines borderlands broadly, both in the sense of contact zones in which local actors incorporate or alter distinctly colonial heritages, lose hold of their own traditions, or creatively reinvent them, and in the sense of individuals or traditions that straddle, or exist at the interstices, of distinct cultural worlds.

Global Borderlands is a deeply humanistic endeavor and grounded in the notion that literature and history have something to tell us about being ‘off center among scattered traditions.’ It is concerned with the messiness of being human – with the languages and heritages that are tangled together in human communities and traditions – and with the borders, figurative and literal, that apportion this complexity into more limiting categories.

Central Asian studies has been walled off in many ways from the theoretical concerns and interests that shape other disciplines. Global Borderlands will help break down these walls by bringing AUCA scholars into contact with OSUN faculty specializing in Latin America, the ancient Mediterranean, and Africa, among others. Scholars from Princeton, CEU, and the Bard Graduate Center have committed to the project, including Jeremy Adelman, a specialist in the Atlantic world who also heads Princeton’s Global History Lab.




Jeremy Adelman (Princeton University)

Jeremy Adelman is the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History and Director of the Global History Lab at Princeton University. He has been the recipient of the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and the ACLS Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship in addition to founding the Council for International Teaching and Research.


Santiago Arbelaez (Universidad de los Andes)

A graduate of Yale, Santiago is a professor of history who focuses on the permeable borders between indigenous and imperial traditions in sixteenth-century Latin America and encompasses the politics of geography and naming.


Christopher Baker (American University of Central Asia)

Christopher Baker is the Director of the Central Asian Studies Institute and Head of the Master of Arts in Central Asian Studies at AUCA. A graduate of IU’s Department of Central Eurasian Studies, his research focuses on the literary imagination of classification and on the efforts of Kazakh artists to categorize complex historicities in imperial and Soviet Eurasia, themes he addressed in his dissertation, “Ethnic Words and Soviet Things.” His accomplishments as CASI Director include shifting the orientation of the Institute to the humanities and chairing and organizing its Literature and History in Central Asia Workshop, a gathering of scholars first convened in 2014 to shape and define the field of literary studies in Central Asia.


Michael Brose (Indiana University)

Michael Brose is a Professor of Practice in Central Eurasian Studies at the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies at IU Bloomington. He researches, publishes and teaches in two areas of Chinese history and society, Mongol China social history, and the history and current role of Islam in SW China.


Naomi Caffee (Reed College)

Naomi's research concerns minority and transnational writing in Russian, with a particular focus on authors from Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Siberia. Her work has taken her to Azerbaijan, Abkhazia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and the Russian Arctic. Her publications include the articles "How Tatiana’s Voice Rang Across the Steppe: Russian Literature in the Life and Legend of Abai” (2018), and "The Transformation of Azerbaijani Orientalists into Islamic Thinkers after 1991" (2011, co-authored with Altay Goyushov and Robert Denis), as well as Verses on the Saami Land (2009), a translation of poetry by the indigenous Saami writer Askold Bazhanov. Her current project is a book entitled Russophonia: Writing the Wide Russian World.


Christopher Fort (American University of Central Asia)

Christopher Fort is Assistant Professor of General Educaiton at American University of CenChristral Asia. He is the author of several articles on Russian, Uzbek, and Central Asian literature as well as the translator of two Uzbek novels: Abdulhamid Cho'lpon's “Night and Day” and Isajon Sulton's “The Eternal Wanderer.”


Svetlana Gorshenina (Research Director, EUR'ORBEM (CNRS/Sorbonne University)

Svetlana Gorshenina is a historian, art historian, and historiographer. She is the author of The Invention of Central Asia. History of the Concept of Tartary in Eurasia, Central Asia. The invention of borders and the Russian-Soviet heritage, Explorers in Central Asia. Travelers and Adventurers from Marco Polo to Ella Maillart. Currently, Svetlana Gorshenina works more particularly on subjects related to the history of archeology of Central Asia, heritage in colonial and postcolonial situations, the materialization of the imagination and national memories and the history of photography. from Russian Turkestan.


Svetlana Jacquesson (American University of Central Asia)

Svetlana Jacquesson is an area study scholar with a strong anthropological bias. Her recent research focuses on nationalist claims about transnational heritage and on conflicting or collusive metadiscursive regimes for the (b)ordering of pasts and presents, of traditions and modernities, and of vernacularities and cosmopolitanisms. Formerly, she has published extensively on “history making,” or popular ways of re-emplotting history to support old and new identity claims as well as on the post-Soviet transformations of lives and identities in Kyrgyzstan. Before re-joining the American University of Central Asia in 2022, she was excellent and key researcher in ‘Sinophone Borderlands: Interaction at the Edges’, a research project supported by the European Regional Development Fund and hosted by the Asian Studies Department of Palacky University (Czech Republic).


Faruh Kuziev (Central European University)

Faruh Kuziev is a PhD Candidate in Comparative History. His dissertation investigates the changes in everyday life and the formation of hybrid cultures in the Tajik countryside. His analyses of how religion, ethnicity, and Late Soviet materiality and spirituality are intertangled will contribute to studies of Soviet Selfhood in Central Asia.


Caspar Meyer (Bard Graduate Center)

Caspar Meyer researches the possibilities which objects offer for human appropriation, communication, and creativity. His aim is to show how material culture can be brought to shed light on practices and experiences that are beyond the purview of literary accounts of society. His published work deals with a range of topics relating to classical art in ancient city-states and its cross-cultural reception among the ‘barbarians’ of Europe and Asia


Anna Pronina (Central European University)

Anna Pronina is a cultural historian of Soviet Central Asia. Currently, she is pursuing a Ph.D. in History at Central European University in Vienna, Austria. Her research focuses on the history of architecture and performative arts in Uzbekistan during the Soviet period. In her research, based on deep archival exploration, she closely examines the architectural projects of state theatres in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. By analyzing the design, construction, and use of these buildings, she aims to shed light on the cultural and political landscape of the time. In addition to architecture, Pronina also explores the repertoire of state theatres and how it reflects the national and cultural policies of the Soviet Union in the postcolonial context.


Charles Shaw (Central European University)

Charles Shaw is a social and cultural historian of the Soviet Union. His research encompasses intermediaries between Central Asian and Russian and Soviet cultures and emphasizes Central Asia, the Second World War, and comparative empires


Vuc Usković (European University Institute)

The main focus of Vuc Usković’s research is on the autonomous rural communities on the southern end of the Veneto-Ottoman border (present-day Montenegro and northern Albania) and their relations with their Venetian and Ottoman sovereigns. He is looking both at how these communities participated in the imperial administration by performing various corporate services to the state and how they internally governed their affairs through their assemblies, arbitration courts, and their chiefdom. The border, both as a physical and symbolic category, features prominently in his research, in relation to other more or less conterminous boundaries (communal, religious, confessional, diocesan, and those of class). The guiding principle of his research is an attempt to understand these communities on the terms they themselves would have employed to describe their identities, their agency, their space. Vuc Usković has particularly been interested in the commonalities of cross-border political and social life: the common ideas about sovereignty, subjecthood, legality, legitimacy, the common institutions and practices of conflict resolution, and the comparable methods of governing the frontier space by the two empires.



The project will revolve around two workshops to be held in Bishkek in late spring or early summer of 2023 and 2025, with the meetings providing a forum to workshop papers or coordinate ‘special issue’ submissions and to engage faculty in outlining the skeletal structure of a borderlands concentration. 

Summer course

CASI plans to offer a summer course at CEU in 2024 as part of the project. Entitled ‘borderland archaeologies,’ it will examine archaeological efforts to trace the fluidity and permeability of traditions in the Eurasian past in addition to exploring present efforts to patch together heritages from disparate material remnants and artifacts in Eurasia. 

American University of Central Asia
7/6 Aaly Tokombaev Street
Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic 720060

Tel.: +996 (312) 915000 + Еxt.
Fax: +996 (312) 915 028
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