Achille Rajola Pescarini

The New Face of Central Asian Islam: Contemporary Islamic Spirituality in Kazakhstan between Soviet Legacy and Globalization 

Achille Rajola Pescarini

achille.rajolapescarini@unimore.it

The project aims to shed light on the current condition of Islam in Central Asia through the study of Sufism in contemporary Kazakhstan, emphasizing its doctrinal and practical specificities, but also investigating its social and identity dimensions, its relations with the history of the region (especially modern and contemporary) and with the different Islamic currents present in the country. Therefore, continuing the previous fieldwork, in which we dealt primarily with the meaning of the choice to take such a spiritual path and on the meaning of “being Sufi” in the country, the present research project is focused on the careful investigation of the scenario of Kazakh and Kazakhstani Sufism in its doctrinal and social, national and transnational features, making use of the methodology proper to ethnographic research, when concerning the socio-anthropological level, and in parallel analyzing changes at the doctrinal level through the study of both classical and contemporary texts produced in its environment. By exploring how the influences of the Soviet past and current globalized modernity have helped to reshape the reflourished Central Asian Sufism, the project thus also aims to indirectly explore the broader and more intricate Islamic religious field in present-day Kazakhstan.