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Writing Travel in Central Asian History

Edited by Nile Green

Publication Year: 2013

For centuries, travelers have made Central Asia known to the wider world through their writings. In this volume, scholars employ these little-known texts in a wide range of Asian and European languages to trace how Central Asia was gradually absorbed into global affairs. The representations of the region brought home to China and Japan, India and Persia, Russia and Great Britain, provide valuable evidence that helps map earlier periods of globalization and cultural interaction.

Published by: Indiana University Press


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pp. C-C

Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication

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pp. i-xi


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pp. vii-viii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

This volume had its origins in the conference “The Roads to Oxiana: The Writing of Travel at the Crossroads of Asia,” hosted by the Program on Central Asia at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in November 2010. The conference was in turn linked to a series of Program on Central Asia seminars and conferences addressing...

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Introduction: Writing, Travel, and the Global History of Central Asia

Nile Green

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pp. 1-40

From the medieval Divisament dou monde of Marco Polo to the modernist prose of Robert Byron’s The Road to Oxiana, Central Asia has been made known to the wider world through the medium of travel writing.1 At a time when Central Asia is increasingly drawn into global political affairs, such travel writings allow us to map the cultural dimensions of an earlier geopolitics that ranges from Qing Chinese empire builders...

Part I. Identity, Information, and Trade, c. 1500–1850

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1 Early Modern Circulation between Central Asia and India and the Question of “Patriotism”

Sanjay Subrahmanyam

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pp. 43-68

Some years ago, an Uzbek soccer coach who had just been employed by a team in India was asked by a Delhi newspaper to comment on the degree of cultural difficulty he expected to face in his new position. The Central Asian sportsman simply shrugged off the question. People tended to forget, he stated confidently, that North India and Central...

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2 Prescribing the Boundaries of Knowledge: Seventeenth-Century Russian Diplomatic Missions to Central Asia

Ron Sela

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pp. 69-88

In the beginning of the seventeenth century, Central Asia was still a mysterious and relatively faint blip on the Russian radar.1 Although diplomatic and commercial missions to the region had, with intervals, been ongoing for some time, they were yet to properly begin in earnest. Partly because Russia was ensnared in its own “Time of

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3 Central Asians in the Eighteenth-Century Qing Imperial Illustrations of Tributary Peoples

Laura Hostetler

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pp. 89-112

Ethnicity is salient to the ways in which we think about identity today. Our global obsession with ethnicity, our confidence in naming and defining a people by a marker as mutable as ethnicity, stems largely from the modern nation-state’s proclivity to build its legitimacy on the ethnic identity of its citizens. The centrality of ethnicity to political...

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4 The Steppe Roads of Central Asia and the Persian Captivity Narrative of Mirza Mahmud Taqi Ashtiyani

Abbas Amanat and Arash Khazeni

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pp. 113-132

In the widely read nineteenth-century Oriental novel The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan (1826), James Morier imagines in descriptive detail the turbulence of a Turkmen raid on Iran’s Central Asian frontier:...

Part II. Empire, Archaeology, and the Arts, c. 1850–1940

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5 “The Rubicon between the Empires”: The River Oxus in the Nineteenth-Century British Geographical Imaginary

Kate Teltscher

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pp. 135-151

“There are many places, scattered over the world, that are hallowed ground in the eyes of Englishmen,” begins Thomas Kington-Oliphant’s The Sources of Standard English (1873), “but the most sacred of all would be the spot (could we only know it) where our forefathers dwelt in common with the ancestors of the Hindoos, Persians, Greeks, Latins, Slavonians and Celts—a spot not far from the Oxus.”1 It is a measure...

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6 Buddhist Relics from the Western Regions: Japanese Archaeological Exploration of Central Asia

Imre Galambos

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pp. 152-169

In the early part of the twentieth century, beside the archaeological exploration of Chinese Turkestan by European explorers, many of whom represented colonial powers, there was also Japanese interest in the region. Most significant in this respect was the series of expeditions organized and financed by Count Ōtani Kōzui (1876–1948). The abbot of the Nishi Honganji branch of the Jōdo Shinshū sect, Ōtani was also a close...

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7 A Russian Futurist in Asia: Velimir Khlebnikov’s Travelogue in Verse

Ronald Vroon

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pp. 170-192

Central Asia and the contiguous territories around the Caspian basin have always asserted themselves in Russian cultural consciousness, an inevitable consequence of the role they have played in the social, political, and military life of the land. But Russia’s Slavic linguistic roots and its adoption of Greek Orthodox Christianity insulated it to a great degree from the polytheist or Muslim “other” to the east and southeast...

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8 Narrating the Ichkari Soundscape: European and American Travelers on Central Asian Women’s Lives and Music

Tanya Merchant

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pp. 193-212

Women in Uzbekistan tell stories of their musical history that reach deep into the past. The most common versions include living memories of mothers, aunts, and grandmothers who played music and/or sang as a hobby in the privacy of their own homes and their recollections of how this practice was entirely common. “There used to be a dutar [fretted, two-stringed lute] hanging in every home,” is a phrase that I’ve...


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pp. 213-218


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pp. 219-220

E-ISBN-13: 9780253011480
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253011343

Page Count: 232
Illustrations: 4 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 867049847
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Writing Travel in Central Asian History