Bruce Pannier: "The Lasting Legacy of Central Asia's Writers: The Founding Fathers (Part 1)"

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Harriman Institute Alum Bruce Pannier, a student of the late Edward A. Allworth (1920-2016), publishes, "The Lasting Legacy of Central Asia's Writers: The Founding Fathers (Part 1)," a piece dedicated to Allworth. RFE/RL (December 30, 2017).

"'Few places on Earth have given literature the importance it has attained in Central Asia, where mighty and meek have for centuries composed, recited, listened to or read, and lived with the poetry which remained their constant companion.'

-- Professor Edward Allworth, Columbia University 

Allworth was one of the leading authorities on Central Asia and one of his great passions was Central Asian literature. So, when he penned the above quote in his book Central Asia: A Century Of Russian Rule (the 1967 edition, it's been updated a couple of times since then), his assessment carried significant weight. His words still ring true, as the writers, poets, and bards of the region remain prominent today. In fact, anyone passing through any of the major cities and towns of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan would become familiar with the names of local literary greats, great and small. 

During the time I was Allworth's student, I did not share his interest in Central Asian literature, which in hindsight I realize was a huge mistake. The Central Eurasian Studies Society conference in Seattle in October 2017 featured a panel devoted to, and honoring, Allworth. Some of his former students presented papers. I was one of them and, as a tribute to Allworth, I decided to do mine on Central Asia's writers and how they are remembered today. This piece essentially counts as my latest and/or last homework assignment for Allworth."

--Bruce Pannier (article intro)

More on Edward A. Allworth:

Pannier, Bruce, Edward Alworth: The Last of the Great Masters of Central Asian Studies, RFE/RL (October 25, 2016)

Tadjbakhsh, Sharbanou, "Remembering Edward Allworth," (October 27, 2017)