SOAS University of London

Centre of Contemporary Central Asia & the Caucasus

Between State and Religion: Officials and Religious Figures in Soviet Tajikistan (1943-1991)

Sultonbek Aksakolov

Date: 13 March 2014Time: 5:30 PM

Finishes: 13 March 2014Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G50

Type of Event: Seminar


Studies on religious policy in Soviet Union from 1943 to 1991 point to the changing nature of this policy, its complexity and the way it was implemented differently in each republic.

This presentation seeks to explain to what extent the interactions between the Soviet officials and  Muslim religious figures  defined the success and limits of the implementation of the state religious policy in Tajikistan. As can be revealed the various agents or social actors in the field of religious policy, as well as ordinary Muslim individuals, did not remain passive recipients of the state’s anti-religious policy, but  had to  adjust  the state policy according to the living situations of themselves and their communities.

Speaker's Biography

Sultonbek Aksakolov received his first degree in Tajik Philology at the university in Tajikistan in 1997 and completed a graduate course in  Islamic studies at the Institute of Ismaili Studies and SOAS in London in 1991-2001. In 2002 he did an M.Phil in Sociology and Politics from the University of Cambridge and in 2013 a PhD in History at SOAS with a thesis on ‘Islam in Soviet Tajikistan: State Policy and Practice of Religion’ (1941-1991) based on Soviet archives preserved in Russian Federation and Tajikistan.

He has been working as researcher  at the Institute of Humanities in Khorog (Tajikistan) from 1997 to 1999; Silk Road Studies Program at the Uppsala University (Sweden in 2004) and the Institute of Ismaili Studies from 2004 to 2010.  His research interests include migration and community formation in Tajikistan and Russian Federation, research on drug production and traffic in Central Asia, survey of Soviet writing on Islam, social and cultural changes among the Ismailis of Central Asia.

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