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Central Asian Studies

From the early 1990s, the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (CREES) and Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies (CMENAS) have collaborated on activities to build the University of Michigan's profile in Central Asian studies. In the past decade, CREES has worked with other U-M units to secure approval for two tenured faculty positions in Modern Central Asian Studies, one in history/Near Eastern studies and one in political science.

CREES also partners with other centers and departments in order to provide instruction of Central Asian languages. In addition to Persian and Turkish, which are taught on campus, we are pleased to offer distance Uzbek and Uyghur via videoconferencing through the Big Ten Academic Alliance. Languages courses at the 200-level and above count towards the REES major.  


The following faculty, research associates, and staff contribute to the University of Michigan's training, research, and outreach activities in Central Asian studies. 

University of Michigan Faculty

Branch, John: Business
Gocek, Fatma Muge: Sociology, Women's Studies
Hagen, Gottfried: Near Eastern Studies
Jones, Pauline: Political Science
King, Elizabeth: Health Behavior and Health Education
Knysh, Alexander: Near Eastern Studies
Maiorova, Olga: Slavic Languages and Literatures
Northrop, Douglas: History, Near Eastern Studies


Students can specialize on all or part of Central Asia within interdisciplinary bachelor's, master's, and graduate certificate programs in Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies. They may also emphasize the region in bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs in anthropology, business, comparative literature, economics, history, law, natural resources, political science, public policy, and sociology.


The University of Michigan offers an array of courses addressing Central Asian culture, history, language, politics, and society (see below). For offerings in specific terms, see CREES courses

  • Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced Persian Language
  • Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced Turkish Language
  • Elementary and Intermediate Uzbek Language (via videoconferencing)
  • Elementary Uyghur (via videoconferencing)
  • NEAREAST/Asian/History/MENAS/REEES 340 - From Genghis Khan to the Taliban: Modern Central Asia
  • NEAREAST 490/590 - Topics in Near Eastern Studies (e.g., Contemporary Central Asia, Travel Literature in Central Asia, Russia and its ‘Easts’)
  • HISTORY 396 - History Colloquium (e.g., Central Asia)
  • HISTORY/MENAS/REEES 639 - Graduate Colloquium in Central Eurasian History
  • HISTORY 698 - Topics in History (e.g., Central Asian History)
  • POLSCI 389 - Topics in Contemporary Political Science (e.g., The Roots of Political Islam)

Supporting Central Asian Studies at the University of Michigan

Gifts earmarked for "Central Asian studies" may be made to the CREES Endowment to support Central Asia-focused courses, lectures, conferences, film screenings, and other programs, as well as student awards for research and internships in the region. Please review the various options for making a gift.

For more information, contact Marysia Ostafin by email ( or phone (734.647.2237).