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CREES Noon Lecture. “‘What Is Becoming of the Uzbeks?’ Islam, Uzbek Identity, and the Search for Meaning in Contemporary Uzbek Independent Religious Media.”

Wednesday, November 6, 2013
12:00 AM
1636 International Institute/SSWB, 1080 S. University

This talk will examine the interaction of religious and national identity in the New Media publications of contemporary Uzbek poets and religious teachers, comparing and contrasting the independent approaches of three popular authors that at times reference and respond to one another. These are: Hayrullo Hamidov, the popular poet, radio host, journalist and religious teacher jailed by the Uzbek government in spring 2010; “Muniyb,” a pseudonymous religious scholar and poet who recently published a voluminous religious commentary on the meaning of suffering and the 2010 Osh violence combined with a number of original poems; and Obidxon Qori Nazarov (Sobitxon O’g’li), an exiled popular cleric known for his digitally published sermons and broadcasts.

Popular works by these two post-Soviet “new Uzbek” authors and one of the last remaining late-Soviet reformist (mujaddidiyya) clerics reach Uzbeks around the world thanks to the digital media platforms that both create space for them to exist and shape the way they are received and who can interact with them. This paper argues that in spite of Uzbekistan’s tight censorship environment, multiple non-state voices participate in contemporary and increasingly important debates about what it means to be both Uzbek and Muslim, and that these two interwoven perspectives shape social responses to social and political pressures, tragedy, violence; ultimately, they inform questions about how to live a “good” and meaningful life in contemporary conditions.

Noah Tucker has worked in a variety of positions involving intelligence, analysis and research, and education. He currently conducts research and analysis of socio-economic, political, and human rights issues in post-Soviet Central Asia as a consultant for U.S. government agencies, NGOs, and academic projects, and provides research and reporting to senior national-level policymakers. He has lived, worked, and done field research in the former USSR for over four years (primarily in Uzbekistan, Russia, and Kyrgyzstan). From 2002-05, he was co-founder and director of a non-profit education project in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. He holds an M.A. in Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Area Studies from Harvard University.

Sponsors: CREES, WCED

Part of the series Pluralism in Politics and Culture, a new initiative jointly sponsored by CREES and WCED that examines the foundations of free and open societies. The project builds on the university’s rich legacy of study and support of the dissident culture in the former Soviet Union and on several existing efforts at U-M. The series focuses on multiple facets of political pluralism, including its legal, cultural, and economic dimensions, and explore them in a broader historical context.

Noah Tucker, Central Asia sociocultural analyst and managing editor,