With the emergence of the independent states of Central Asia and the Caucasus, SOAS, University of London has expanded its teaching and research resources for these important regions. This expansion was made possible by the 1996 award to the School by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) of three new lectureships dedicated to the study of this area, following the 1995 HEFCE review of UK teaching and research capacity on the Former Soviet and East European States. The School was also awarded the Al-Tajir Post-doctoral Research Fellowship for the study of the Caspian and Caucasus region.
SOAS currently hosts a multi-disciplinary team of scholars working on Central Asia and the Caucasus, the largest grouping in any single institution in the U.K. and Europe. Alongside those engaged in the study of contemporary problems of post-Soviet transition, there is a broader grouping of scholars involved in the study of neighbouring areas (Iran and Afghanistan) and the archaeology, religion, linguistics, pre-history and history of Central Asia and the Caucasus, lending breadth and depth to the study of the region. The Centre also hosts research associates and visiting scholars who are working on projects relevant to the Centre.
In recognition of the School’s long-standing interest in the region and its potential as a UK centre of excellence, the Centre of Contemporary Central Asia and the Caucasus was founded in 2001 as one of the regional centres of the School of Oriental and African Studies.
The principal role of the Centre is to promote, coordinate and disseminate information relating to, the academic study of Central Asia and the Caucasus across the disciplines and to act as a resource for academic, governmental, non-governmental and business constituencies with an interest in Central Asia and the Caucasus. It does so through the research and publications of its staff, new teaching programmes, an established seminar series and special events.