Writing Travel in Central Asian History

Writing Travel in Central Asian History

Edited by Nile Spencer Green
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 01/02/2014
Format: Paperback 4 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-01135-0
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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.

Author Bio

Nile Green is Professor of South Asian and Islamic history at UCLA. His recent books include Bombay Islam: The Religious Economy of the West Indian Ocean, winner of the Albert Hourani Award for outstanding publishing in Middle East Studies and Sufism: A Global History.


“A unique and novel approach. . . . The volume, led off by Green's substantial introduction, adds nuance to the Central Asia field and elevates our understanding of travel literature as a genre.”
 — Scott Levi, Ohio State University

“Aiming 'to connect Central Asia to global history', this body of research will prove an important anthology for scholars and advanced students alike who are interested in exploring the cultural connections uniting these proximate spheres.”
 — Central Asian Survery

“Accustomed as we have become to appraise Central Asia through the prism of postcolonialism, Nile Green’s collection turns our collective head 180 degrees. The eight essays and Green’s introduction that frames them sets us off in an entirely new direction. . . . The essays provide a new approach for the study of Central Asia, and, they are excellent for this reason.”
 — Slavic Review

“In his engaging, lucid introduction to 'Writing Travel in Central Asian History', Nile Green writes that its chapters use the lens of travel writing to 'explore the different meanings given to Central Asia in the far corners of the world during the region's most intensive periods of globalization between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries'. . . intriguing and valuable . . . .May 2016”
 — Journal of Asian Studies

“[A]n eclectic collection that spans from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, offers contributions from historians, literary scholars, and ethnomusicologists. . . We gain a sense of the evolving goals of outside powers: Russian and Persian missions sought to halt a burgeoning slave trade; Indian princedoms sought allies; Chinese Qing bureaucrats sought to categorize and rule the peoples on the edge of their empire; German anthropologists sought an 'Aryan heartland'; and the British worked to define geographic markers to their advantage in the nineteenth century 'Great Game' with the tsarist empire. ”
 — American Historical Review

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Table of Contents

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

Part I. Identity, Information and Trade, c.1500-1850
1. Early Modern Circulation and the Question of ‘Patriotism’ between Central Asia and India Sanjay Subrahmanyam
2. Prescribing the Boundaries of Knowledge: Seventeenth Century Russian Diplomatic Missions to Central Asia Ron Sela
3. Central Asians in the Eighteenth Century Qing Illustrations of Tributary Peoples Laura Hostetler
4. The Steppe Roads of Central Asia and the Persian Captivity Narrative of Mirza Mahmud Taqi Abbas Amanat and Arash Khazeni

Part II. Empire, Archaeology and the Arts, c.1850-1940
5. ‘The Rubicon between the Empires’: The River Oxus in the Nineteenth Century British Geographical Imaginary Kate Teltscher
6. Buddhist Relics from the Western Regions: Japanese Archaeological Exploration of Central Asia Imre Galambos
7.: A Russian Futurist in Asia: Velimir Khlebnikov’s Travelogue in Verse Ronald Vroon
8. Narrating the Ichkari Soundscape: European and American Travelers on Central Asian Women’s Lives and Music Tanya Merchant

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