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University of Toronto

Bucerius Ph.D. Fellow

Afterlives of Soviet Secularism: Islamic Revival and Scepticism in Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan


Since the collapse of the USSR with its anti-religious ideology, Muslim-majority societies of Central Asia have been witnessing the increasing influence of transnational Islamic movements that urge people to learn the tenets of Islamic theology and to perform Islamic daily ritual obligations. Although such movements have significantly transformed religious landscapes of the region, many Central Asian lay Muslims remain sceptical about their activities. Some are highly unsympathetic to them, while others express ambivalence and uneasy reluctance about embracing more orthodox forms of religiosity. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Kyrgyzstan, this project attends to concepts and sensibilities that constitute and articulate such experiences. In doing so, it sheds light on how they relate to Soviet secularism.

Usmon Boron is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department for the Study of Religion and the Center for Diaspora and Transnational Studies, University of Toronto. He previously received an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from Lund University, Sweden. Usmon’s primary academic interests include critical approaches to secularism and religion, as well as the anthropology of law and ethics.

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