Becoming Muslim in Uzbekistan: The Moral Quality of Experience (by Dr Johan Rasanayagam, University of Aberdeen)
24 August 2011
UCA Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic
Date: 24 August 2011, 4 PM
Venue: University of Central Asia, 138 Toktogul Street, Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic. Conference Room
This presentation explores the processes of moral reasoning by which individuals in Uzbekistan develop understandings of Islam and what it means to be a Muslim. In this context, the moral is defined by ‘transcendence’ and involves judgement, reasoning and evaluation with regard to standards beyond the specificity of an individual life. This transcendent quality of lived experience enables moral reasoning, which is not confined to reflection on objective values or conscious striving to develop a virtuous self. It is not a process confined to the mind. Moral reasoning is inherent within lived experience, in an embodied, ongoing engagement in a social and material world. The presentation also discusses the ‘intelligibility’ of experience. Individuals in Uzbekistan are developing diverse and personal understandings of Muslim selfhood, but at the same time productively interact and communicate with each other as fellow Muslims and members of a shared moral community. This is possible not because they share the same values or understandings of Islam. In fact, these understandings can be radically opposed. It is lived experience itself which provides the intelligibility which enables productive, mutual engagement. In light of this, the presentation discusses ways to think about ‘Islam’ as an object of social scientific study.
Johan Rasanayagam is a lecturer in anthropology at the University of Aberdeen. He has conducted extensive field research in Uzbekistan on the theme of the state and how it is experienced and imagined by citizens through everyday encounters. His later research has focused on Islam and morality in Uzbekistan, the government’s attempts to define and enforce legitimate Islamic practice and how individuals come to their own understandings of what it means to be a Muslim. He is author of Islam in Post-Soviet Uzbekistan: The Morality of Experience, Cambridge University Press 2011.
The presentation will be conducted in English. Russian translation will be provided upon prior request.
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* The views presented in this lecture are those of the presenter and not necessarily those of the University of Central Asia or any of its staff