Research

Expressions of Sufi Culture in Tajikistan

(From the back cover) This eloquent ethnography reveals the daily lives and religious practice of ordinary Muslim men in Tajikistan as they aspire to become Sufi mystics. Benjamin Gatling describes in vivid detail the range of expressive forms—memories, stories, poetry, artifacts, rituals, and other embodied practices—employed as they try to construct a Sufi life in twenty-first-century Central Asia.

Gatling demonstrates how Sufis transcend the oppressive religious politics of contemporary Tajikistan by using these forms to inhabit multiple times: the paradoxical present, the Persian sacred past, and the Soviet era. In a world consumed with the supposed political dangers of Islam, Gatling shows the intricate, ground-level ways that Muslim expressive culture intersects with authoritarian politics, not as artful forms of resistance but rather as a means to shape Sufi experiences of the present.

War Stories: Afghan Memories of Conflict, Migration, and Home

In recent decades, Afghans have experienced invasions by foreign powers, years of resulting civil war, and still ongoing military efforts to create a sustainable political future. Political instability has facilitated the movement of millions of Afghans as refugees, asylum seekers, and so-called economic migrants. This project explores how members of the Afghan diaspora now living in a number of interlinked sites conceptualize their experiences of war, migration, and home through narrative.