The Commission for the Study of Islam in Central Eurasia sets for itself the task of exploring the social, intellectual, and political history of the Muslim communities inhabiting the land mass covering the Volga-Ural region, the North Caucasus, Siberia, the Kazakh Steppe, Central Asia, and Crimea from the fall of the Khanate of Kazan (1552) to the present. For nearly five centuries, Muslim communities across this vast area experienced various forms of non-Islamic sovereignty and administration: imperial/colonial, Soviet atheist, and secular nationalist. At the same time, however, Islamic institutions and religious practices continued to leave a deep imprint upon cultural institutions and social life among the Muslim communities of the Russian Empire, the USSR and the post-Soviet space. The focus of the Commission will be the examination of the encounters, cross-pollinations, and manifestations of antagonism between Muslim communities and the non-Islamic states that ruled over them.
This research initiative pursues the integration of the study of Muslims inhabiting the region once administered by the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union into the global history of Islam. It does so by bringing the history of Islam in Central Eurasia into conversation with several distinct, though interconnected, disciplines and area studies: Iranian Studies, Turkology, Eastern European History, Byzantine Studies, Ottoman Studies, Russian and Soviet History, Colonial Studies, Imperial and Global History. The Commission is keen to establish lines of collaboration with other research units at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and consider forms of synergy within the agenda outlined in this mission statement; equally, it is open to proposals from any other institute as to how the Committee could help inform and complement their own research agenda.
The Commission aims to establish itself as one of the major research initiatives in Europe and North America pursuing fundamental research of Islam in Central Eurasia. Therefore, it will facilitate scholarly exchanges within the framework of dedicated symposia, lecture series, and seminars. In addition, it will support the publication of original studies and primary sources that can serve as research tools.