Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute

A photo by Rafis Abazov.



Changing Cultural Landscape of Central Asia

This exhibition displays a series of photographs taken by Dr. Rafis Abazov during his trips to Central Asia in 2005, 2006, and 2007, for his book The Culture and Customs of the Central Asian Republics (2007) and for his forthcoming book on Central Asian history.

Abazov’s exhibition illustrates the most recent cultural changes that the region, once known as the “jewel of the Great Silk Road,” experienced during the past 3-4 years. After the 1990s, a decade of steep decline and negligence, the Central Asian artistic communities were able to benefit from double-digit economic growth, an inflow of investments, and oil windfall.

A new post-Soviet generation of artists attempts at integrating the region’s traditional cultural heritage, which has unique historical, cosmological and metaphysical roots in the interchange on the Great Silk Road, with the modern artistic expressions of the globalized world.

This exhibition includes both published and unpublished photos. In addition, it presents some rare images from 19th century Central Asia.

Rafis Abazov is an adjunct Assistant Professor at the Harriman Institute at Columbia University. His teaching interests involve modern politics, social, cultural and economic development in Third World countries, with focus on Central Asia. Dr. Abazov has been contracted as a consultant for various projects, including the Freedom House Nations in Transit project and the annual reports of Transition-On-Line on Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. He has published four books and a number of other articles on economic and political development in Eurasia. His most recent book, The Culture and Customs of the Central Asian Republics, was published in January 2007.