Skip to main content

The Central Asia Working Group was established in 2018 to build on growing interest across campus in the societies of Russian Central Asia — and neighboring regions such as Afghanistan, the Caucasus, Chinese Inner Asia, Mongolia, Pakistan, and southern Russia — from an interdisciplinary perspective. With support from the UNC Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies (CSEEES) and Carolina Seminars, the working group holds approximately three events per semester, ranging from book talks with invited speakers to informal sessions in which graduate students workshop dissertation chapters. Its purpose is to provide a forum for scholars, graduate students, and undergraduates at UNC, and in the surrounding area, to explore and stay abreast of new avenues of research in the study of Central Asia.

Advisory Committee

Eren Tasar

Eren Tasar in an associate professor in the UNC Department of History. He received his PhD from Harvard University. His research interests include religion and politics in Central Asia and the former Soviet Union. He is the author of Soviet and Muslim: The Institutionalization of Islam in Central Asia (Oxford University Press, 2017).

Erica Johnson

Erica Johnson is a teaching associate professor and director of graduate studies in the UNC Global Studies Curriculum. She has an ongoing research focus on government and citizen uses of new information and communication technologies in post-Soviet Central Asia and on civil society development in the post-Soviet region.

Waleed Ziad

Waleed Ziad is an assistant professor in the UNC Department of Religious Studies. His current book project examines the development of trans-regional Islamic revivalist networks in the 18th to early 20th centuries, spanning modern day Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, India, China, and Russia. He received his PhD from Yale University.

Rustin Zarkar

Rustin Zarkar is a Middle East & Islamic Studies Librarian at UNC. He the co-founder and co-editor of Ajam Media Collective — an online space documenting cultural, social and political trends in Iran, Central Asia and the Caucasus. He is also the co-founder and co-producer for Mehelle — a multimedia resource that preserves the sights, sounds and memories of rapidly-changing neighborhoods in the Caucasus.


Paths to Freedom in Nineteenth-Century Central Asia: Two Case-Studies of Emancipation
Participants: Jeff Eden (St. Mary’s College of Maryland)

Polymaths of Islam: Power and Networks of Knowledge in Central Asia
Participants: James Pickett (University of Pittsburgh)

Pipe Dreams: Water and Empire in Central Asia’s Aral Sea Basin
Participants: Maya Peterson (UC Santa Cruz)

To keep up to date on the Cental Asia Working Group activities, please check our events calendar or subscribe to our mailing list. For all other inquiries about the group, please contact Dr. Eren Tasar.