American University of Central Asia - AUCA - Mandatory courses


CA 501 Empire, Identity, and Modernity - topics in the history of Central Asia

Empire, Identity, and Modernity surveys the history of Central Asia in the 19th century, a period in which the Russian Empire completed its conquest of the region and in which local populations attempted to come to terms with the unsettling impact of modernity and colonization. Focusing on a broad range of subjects, including issues of gender and sexuality, the Russian imagination of “Asia,” the formation of ethnic and national identities, as well as intellectual, political, and cultural trends, the course is meant to ground students in the historical literature on the era as well as to highlight areas that have received little study. Focused on the Imperial era, the course will also trace Central Asian history to the eve of the Soviet Revolution, a historical moment in which local intellectuals were attempting to shape the tangled historical identities that marked the Central Asian past into more coherent ethnic and national forms. A core course in the Master of Arts in Central Asia program (MACAS), Empire, Identity, and Modernity is designed to introduce students to critical skills and practices, including the capacity to critically read and evaluate seminal works on Central Asia and to identify their key arguments, assumptions, and weaknesses.

CA 505 Development, Change, and Transformation in Central Asia

This course provides a critical examination of the economic, political, social, and cultural dimensions of post-Communist transformation. It will examine different sociological theories of systems of collapse, systemic change, and dimensions of transition, invite comparative analysis of different transformation paths, and explore various aspects of the processes of change, such as the impact of state collapse on state-society relations, ethnic, religious, and gender identities, and patterns of adaptation. Examples will be drawn from a wide variety of post-Communist countries, yet, students will be encouraged throughout the course to examine current policy dilemmas in Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asian countries in their broader comparative and theoretical contexts.


CA 506 Central Asian Politics - Governance between Past and Future

The course has a historical and “transitional” focus. It is built around three core themes: 1) political regimes and their transformations: authoritarianism, democratization, and the various processes and events that oscillate between these two, 2) institutional development analysis: the processes of institution-building from the Soviet legacy to independent systems of government - constitutional structures, rule of law, administrative institutional reform processes, etc., and 3) drivers of political change and their impediments: critical analysis of political parties, social/political movements and informal political actors.


CA 507 Central Asia in Global Politics

Central Asian states entered the global political stage when they acquired unexpected independence with the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. This module introduces the region from the perspective of its place in global politics and the study of International Relations. The five former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan underwent decolonialisation under the conditions of globalisation of world economy and on the wave of post-Cold war confidence in the inevitability of triumph of liberalism. At the same time the recent decade of the global ‘War on Terror’ waged by the United States and its Western allies has been dominated by the discourses of danger that transformed this part of the world from the ‘Second’ into the ‘Third World’, from post-communist into ‘Islamic’ world. This fascinating region offers scholars of international relations a unique insight into the challenges of state- and nation-building under the conditions of globalisation of world politics. This module aims to analyse some of the key phenomena, ideas and events in the region’s recent history, seeking to address critically some of the now widely held assumptions about this post-Soviet area.


CA 508 Master’s Thesis Development I

Independent Graduate Study I is part of a cluster of practical courses in the Master of Arts in Central Asian Studies program (MACAS). Together with Independent Graduate Study II and Master’s Thesis Development I and II, it comprises the program’s “research internship.” In Master’s Thesis Development I students are introduced to MACAS MA thesis policy and the basic building blocks of the thesis. They are guided in preparing a research design and a research schedule, choosing an MA thesis supervisor, and establishing a working relation with them. During the course, students are invited to reflect on how to improve or complete their literature reviews, translate a research topic into research questions or research hypotheses, foreground the originality of their research topic, assess critically the quality and quantity of data they need for their MA thesis and the best ways to collect or access different categories of data. The course is equally divided between lectures when the instructor discusses substantive aspects of academic research and writing and discussions when students learn to solve academic challenges individually and in group. By the end of the course students are expected to have draft versions of the literature review and methodology sections of their MA theses.

CA 508.1 Master’s Thesis Development II

Master’s Thesis Development II is part of a cluster of practical courses in the Master of Arts in Central Asian Studies program (MACAS). Together with Independent Graduate Study I and II and Master’s Thesis Development I, it comprises the program’s “research internship.” Students are expected to use Master’s Thesis Development II as a way to refine and focus their writing, and their ideas. The seminar takes place as a mixture of individual and group sessions. During individual sessions students are welcome to discuss any particular issue related to the topic, research and writing up of their MA theses. Individual sessions with the instructor are planned at least four days in advance and the student states clearly the issues s/he wants to be helped with. Most of these individual sessions should be focused on written up -- or nearly so -- sections of the student’s MA thesis. Group sessions – or true seminars -- take place either every second week of the month (a single session) or once per month (a double session). Group sessions are organized either upon students’ initiative when students themselves raise the issues they want to discuss in group and receive feedback on, or upon the initiatives of the instructor or the supervisors. Group discussions are meant to provide an ongoing workshop in which students can test, experiment with, and explore the formulations and key components of their thesis, the goal being to finish the course with an editable, working draft. Additionally, students in Master’s Thesis Development II present their work at two MACAS workshops – comprised of AUCA faculty and graduate students focused on the Central Asian region – and at a CASI seminar or graduate student conference, the aim being to provide students experience in publicly presenting their work, distilling it, and responding to questions and criticism from scholars with knowledge and expertise in the Central Asian field.

CA 571 Power and Knowledge - Introduction to Central Asia

Power and Knowledge is meant to provide students a broad introduction to contemporary Central Asia as well as to the diverse legacies of the Soviet inheritance in the region. Moving back and forth between the past and contemporary Central Asia, it examines the ways in which Soviet policies, practices, and traditions resonate in the Central Asian present. Power and Knowledge explores these intersections while also introducing students to the variety of scholarly prisms – historical, ethnographic, cultural, economic, environmental, national, and social – that have been applied to the region, with each week centered on a distinct approach and representative examples of existing scholarship. Focusing on important works and texts, it will also expose students to a series of primary materials and sources – policy statements, works of literary and pictorial art, translated essays, journalistic pieces, etc. – that touch on critical issues in the Soviet past and Central Asian present.  A core course in the Master of Arts in Central Asia program (MACAS), Power and Knowledge is designed to introduce students to critical skills and practices, including the facility to analyze the fields of knowledge that have informed studies of the region.


CA 604 Identities in the Making - Soviet Nationalities

The course explores political, social, and cultural dimensions of various nationalities in the Soviet Union. It addresses the issues of creating new and reshaping old national identities under the early Soviet regime. The course also discusses the peculiarities of the interwar nationality politics such as the establishment of new languages, national schools, and cultural practices. Finally, the course deals with political and economic problems resulting from the Soviet nationality politics, such as changing of borders, ethnic conflicts, and environmental changes. As an outcome, students will develop critical understanding of the complexity of the nationality issue in different parts of the Soviet Union. They will get a deeper sense of the early history of the Soviet Union and familiarize themselves with the legacy of the Soviet heritage in Central Asia.


CA 900/901 Independent Graduate Study I and II

Independent Graduate Study I and II are part of a cluster of practical courses in the Master of Arts in Central Asian Studies program (MACAS). Together with Master’s Thesis Development I and II, it comprises the program’s “research internship.” Independent Graduate Study I and II comprise the program’s “research internship.” Their goal is to immerse students in typical elements of everyday academic practice and to foster their research skills, including their capacity to work independently, keep to a research schedule and respect deadlines. Independent Graduate Study I and II unroll according to a working plan or a syllabus established by the student and their supervisor and approved by the Head of the Program.  During Independent Graduate Study I and II students learn to timely identify and access major sources for their MA thesis; design data collection projects and implement them; combine reading, data collection and writing up. Upon the reccommendation of their supervisor or the head of the program, students also attend scholarly events, in AUCA or outside of it, and present their ongoing research either in MACAS “ongoing workshop” (i.e., MA Thesis Seminar II) or at other  relevant venues.


American University of Central Asia
7/6 Aaly Tokombaev Street
Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic 720060

Tel.: +996 (312) 915000 + Еxt.
Fax: +996 (312) 915 028
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