American University of Central Asia - AUCA - Founding members

Founding members

Christopher Baker, Assistant Professor, American University of Central Asia

Naomi Caffee, Assistant Professor, Reed College

Naomi Caffee is an Assistant Professor of Russian and Humanities at Reed College, and a participant in the AUCA History and Literature Workshop since 2014. Her research focuses on issues of postcolonial identity and transnational connectivity in the works of writers and culture workers from Central Asia, the Caucasus, Siberia, and the Circumpolar North. Her work has been published in Russian Language Journal, Russian Literature, Journal of Central Eurasian Studies, and Experiment: a Journal of Russian Culture, as well as in the edited volumes Picturing Russian Empire (2023), Russia in Asia: Interactions, Imaginations, and Realities (2020) and The Heritage of Soviet Oriental Studies (2011). Her collaborative projects include “Beyond Caricature,” a digital archive of early 20th century political caricature from the South Caucasus, and “Russophone Voices,” a public humanities collective that brings together authors, scholars, and readers for conversations on contemporary Russophone literature. 

Christopher Fort, Assistant Professor, American University of Central Asia

Christopher is Assistant Professor of General Education at American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Christopher completed his PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures in July 2019. In July 2019 he defended his dissertation, Inhabiting Socialist Realism: Soviet Literature from the Edge of Empire, which examines how Uzbek litterateurs interpreted the Russian-born strictures of Socialist Realism through the prism of their own literary and cultural traditions. He is interested in the relationship between narrative, ideology, subjectivity, and the state, and his current research explores the ways in which Uzbek authors used native narrative forms to construct their public Soviet selves. He is the author of articles on Tolstoy and Pelevin, as well as the translator into English of two Uzbek novels: Abdulhamid Sulaymon o‘g‘li Cho‘lpon’s 1934 novel Night and Day and Isajon Sulton’s 2011 novel The Eternal Wanderer.

Gabriel McGuire, Assistant Professor, Nazarbayev University

Gabriel is Assistant Professor in the Department of Languages, Linguistics, and Literature at Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan, where he teaches classes on world literature, folktales, and the oral literature of Central Asia. He holds an MA (2007) and a PhD (2013) from the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University. His dissertation research involved a study of mobile pastoral practices in rural south Kazakhstan. His current research focuses on the oral literature of the Kazakhs and on the intellectual history of folklore study in Soviet Kazakhstan.

Ali İğmen, Professor (California State University, Long Beach)

Ali İğmen is Professor of Central Asian History, the Director of the Oral History Program at the California State University, Long Beach, and past President of Central Eurasian Studies Society (2018-19). He works on the history of Soviet culture and gender politics in Central Eurasia, currently writing his third book, Becoming a Citizen During the Multi-Party Era in Republican Turkey: A Female Journalist’s Journey in the city of Bursa, from 1958 present. He received his doctorate from the University of Washington in Seattle, and taught at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Kyrgyz National University in Bishkek, Osh State University in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, and Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, Turkey. A significant number of awards such as Fulbright-Hays, SSRC, Mellon Slavic Studies Initiative Grant and FLAS helped support his research on Central Asian History, mostly focusing on Kyrgyzstan and Turkey.

Emily Laskin, journalist and scholar

Emily Laskin is a journalist and scholar of literature and empire, with a specialization in the literature of Central Asia. Her current book project, No Man’s Land: The Geopoetics of Modern Central Asia, focuses on the literature of the so-called Great Game, the Russo-British rivalry for influence in Central Asia, putting Russian and British imperial writing on Central Asia in dialogue with contemporaneous Persian literature published across the region, from Kabul, to Bukhara, to Istanbul. Laskin’s recent academic work on the literature of the Great Game appears in Novel: A Forum on Fiction, and she is an editor of the forthcoming volume Tulips in Bloom: An Anthology of Modern Central Asian Literature. She has also published translations from the Russian of works by Andrei Platonov and Boris Pilnyak. She received her Ph.D. in 2021 in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, and also holds an M.A. in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies from Columbia University. Currently, she is an editor at the international edition of independent Russian newspaper Meduza, where she covers history, politics, and environmental issues in Russia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus.

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

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