Usmon Boron

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Toronto, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9673

Approve Date

April 19, 2018

Project Title

Boron, Usmon, U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid research on 'Secularity, Aspiration, and Religious Failure in Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan,' supervised by Dr. Amira Mittermaier

USMON BORON, then a graduate student at University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, was awarded a grant in April 2018 to aid research on ‘Secularity, Aspiration, and Religious Failure in Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan,’ supervised by Dr. Amira Mittermaier. In the 1920s, the Soviet state began forcefully secularizing Muslim-majority Central Asia. By the beginning of WWII, the state had destroyed almost all Islamic institutions in the region, marginalizing Islamic discourses and key ritual obligations—including namaz, or Islamic ritual prayer—among lay Muslims. Nevertheless, most Central Asians continued to believe in God and identify as Muslim, and despite being alienated from the major pietistic aspects of Islam, remained committed to Islamic life-cycle rites such as male circumcision, the marriage ceremony, and funerary prayer. After the collapse of the USSR in 1991, multiple Islamic piety movements became increasingly active in Central Asia, entreating lay Muslims to learn the basics of Islamic theology and to become Islamically observant. Based on two years of ethnographic research in Kyrgyzstan, this project examines the conceptual legacy of Soviet forced secularization against the backdrop of the ongoing Islamic revival. More specifically, it engages with non-observant Muslims of the last Soviet generation, focusing particularly on the ways in which Soviet secular concepts constitute how they understand Islam and relate to the changing religious landscape of their country.