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Tajik, Dari or Persian? Evolution of Iranian languages and Cultures: A Cross Cultural Approach  

Dates: 4-25 September 2024
Course Fee: 650 Euros (DAAD GoEast Scholarships Available)
Deadline: 15 June 2024
Language: English and Tajik Language Lessons
Level: Undergraduate and Postgraduate

The proposed summer school will be designed to assist international and local students to improve their academic knowledge and skills of Persian languages and cultures within the context of modern Tajikistan as well as to equip them with interpersonal and commutation skills in a different linguistic and cultural context.  Persian, which is currently known by three different names in Tajikistan (Tajik), Afghanistan (Dari) and Iran (Farsi), has a long history being one of the major languages of art, literature, science, and politics in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Indian subcontinent before the nineteenth - century European expansions of these regions. Persian – Tajik literature and thought also influenced Europe. In the seventeenth century for the first time the famous Gulistan (‘Rose Garden’) of Saadi was translated into French. It was followed by other translations like the Divan of Hafiz, the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, the Rubaiyyat of Khayyam in French, English and German. The famous German poet and thinker Goethe in his"West-Ostlichen Divan" said "O Hafiz, your word is as great as eternity for it has no beginning and no end. Your word, as the canopy of Heaven, solely depends on itself. It is all signs, beauty and excellence".

The summer school’s main aim is to bring international and local students to get together in the birthplace of the new Persian language, which developed during the reign of the Samanids in the ninth century, yet also manage to preserve other Iranian languages such Pamir and Yaghnobi. The school, thus, provides opportunities for learning the Eastern Iranian languages of Wakhi and Shughni alongside with Tajik in Cyrillic and Farsi and Dari in Persian scripts. The multidisciplinary approach of the school allows the students to gain a deeper understanding of the plurality of Persian cultural heritage as well as related narratives and discourses in cultural and social sphere that exist in Central Asia and beyond from multiple angles, perspectives, and positions (in terms of academic disciplines, local, national or transnational politics, and everyday life). The other aim of the summer school is to engage the participants in reflecting on their own positionalities as researchers by engaging with critical approaches to Persian cultural and linguistic heritage. Through a new area studies approach, which places great value on local forms of knowledge production, local languages, and dialogical research methods, the students will create dialogical research groups to investigate different perspectives on creating, consuming, and conserving cultural heritage, posing questions such as: how a common Persian cultural heritage is understood and defined in the context of Tajikistan? Is Tajik, Dari and Farsi the same language and what is their relation to the Yaghnobi and Pamiri languages?  What space does the Persian poetic legacy occupy in today’s heritage politics in Tajikistan? How is cultural heritage created, consumed, and conserved in the Persianate world by various actors?

In order to place perspectives and debates from within/inside Tajikistan on cultural and linguistic heritage at the forefront of the summer school, international students will be offered an intensive crash course in Tajik and Pamiri languages for two weeks, which will use a combination of language lessons, tandems with local students, and small practical exercises in Dushanbe. Beginners will receive tuition in basic conversational Tajik, while more advanced students with prior knowledge of another Persian language will further develop their pre-existing skills. The third week will be devoted to preparation for the assignments, which will contribute to the final assessment, and will be complemented by a combination of lectures, workshops, discussions, reading circles, laboratories, and focus groups with researchers from the University of Central Asia, and excursions which will support the students in critically examining topics relating to identity, space, language material culture, and religion. While there will be a strong focus on anthropological and area studies methodologies, the students will be encouraged to try new methodologies and select an approach specific to their chosen topic. The students will be expected to conduct their own mini-research projects in small groups consisting of international students and students from the Aga Khan Humanities Project (AKHP), selecting one aspect of cultural heritage in Central Asia and investigating its meaning and context. Thus, Tajik language is understood not only as an important tool for ‘grounded’ and context-sensitive studies on cultural heritage but serves, as a specific form of heritage itself, also as a good entry point into the contested field of heritage activities in Central Asia

To implement critical approaches to Persian linguistic and cultural heritage, the students will attend a series of debate events which aim to introduce international students to the Cross Debate Format (CDF): a Central Asian dialectic tool used to solve problems through discussion and the exchange of multiple perspectives and ideas.

In the final assessment, students will present their mini-research projects in a multi-media format to the rest of the summer school participants, teaching staff, and other researchers from the University of Central Asia. The results of the mini-research projects will be published after the end of the summer school in a digital knowledge archive which will act as a platform for future dialogical research projects between not only the participating students, but the wider academic environment of UCA and its partner universities in Central Asia and Europe.

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Application Process

The participant number is limited to 20 students.

The summer school is designed for current students and recent graduates, both local and international. Students from German universities are highly encouraged to apply. While the summer school actively encourages applications from a wide variety of academic disciplines, applicants who have previous knowledge of Central Asia and/or the topics relating to the summer school (cultural heritage, Persian cultural and linguistic heritage, material culture, identity) will be favoured.

Please fill out the online application form here.

Please submit your CV with a photo, and a Letter of Motivation stating your reasons for applying to the summer school and what makes you an ideal candidate to:

Applications can be submitted online until 15 June 2024.

The selection will be made by a selection committee consisting of scholars and teaching staff. Participants will be ranked according to the reasons and goals outlined in their motivation letter. Strong candidates will ideally have prior knowledge of Central Asia and display a keen interest in at least one of the topics relating to the summer school (cultural heritage, Persian cultural and linguistic heritage, material culture, identity)

You should receive an answer from us within one month after the application deadline. Applicants of DAAD GoEast scholarships should please note that this deadline may differ due to the DAAD’s own deadlines.

Fees and Payments

The course fee is set at 650 EUR per person. Please note there are partial scholarships available for students of UCA courses.

The course fee covers teaching materials, lessons, cultural programme, certification, light refreshments during coffee breaks, and field trips to museums, cultural heritage sites in Dushanbe.

Accommodation is to be paid separately directly to the host upon arrival and is not included in the course fee.

Lunch and dinner are not included.

The course fee is to be paid by bank transfer before the start of the summer school. Exact details will be sent along with the selection confirmation before the beginning of the course. Please note that your booking can only be confirmed once we receive the fee payment.

Students of German universities can apply to the DAAD GoEast programme for funding. Please check their website for further details. Partial scholarships are available for local students in the form of a reduced course fee.

Once payment of the course fee is received, participation in the summer school is confirmed and a refund is not possible.


Participants who participate in all 3 weeks of the summer school will be awarded 10 ECTS credits.

Students will receive a signed and stamped certificate upon successful completion of the summer school.

Please consult your course coordinator or study advisor at your home institution for exact details.

Teaching takes place Monday to Friday in three blocks: 09.00-10.30, 11.00-12.30, and 1.30-15.00.

No, the evening programme (events after 15.00) is not compulsory but very much encouraged as this will expand on elements of in-class teaching.

If you are an international student, you are still required to participate in the Tajik language classes. Local students have the option to skip the language course for a reduced course fee.

Yes, there will be a Tajik language exam at the end of the language crash course.

Yes, we will try to accommodate for varying language levels as best as possible.

Travel and Accommodation

Please check with your local Tajikistani embassy for more details. Passport holders from many countries enjoy visa-free travel to Tajikistan for up to 30 days, and others have the option of applying for an eVisa for touristic purposes.

Please state in the online application form if you require a visa invitation letter and we will contact you for more details.

Every international student should take responsibility for their registration and  have to register with the Migration Police (OVIR) upon arrival to Tajikistan. Registration is done through the accommodation owners.

Turkish Airlines, flydubai, and several Russian airlines operate flights to Dushanbe International Airport, located in the south-east of the city.

No, participants will need to take a taxi from the airport. A taxi should cost around 20-30 TJS depending on the area.

Accommodation is not provided by the Summer school. However, the Summer school can guide searching for accommodation if needed. The price of the accommodation is separate from the course fee and should be paid directly to the accommodation owners.

For more information, please contact:

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