Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




Photo Exhibit: Turkmenistan: People on the Great Silk Road

The Harriman Institute presents a series of photographs taken by Rafis Abazov during his trips to Turkmenistan in 2007 and 2008.

The exhibit portrays the lives of ordinary people in a country that is best known for the centuries of its flourishing culture on the Great Silk Road, as well as for its ambition to become the “next Kuwait of Central Asia.” The mixture of old traditions and modern Western influence gives Turkmenistan a distinct flavor. While some customs make the casual Western visitor feel as if they are transported to the distant past, other practices might closely resemble events in New York, Manchester, or Istanbul. The photographer invites the viewers to take a photo-journey that will show them what makes Turkmen life both analogous to and variant from the life of people in other parts of the world.

About the photographer

Rafis Abazov is an adjunct assistant Professor at the Harriman Institute of Columbia University. His teaching interests cover modern politics, social, cultural, and economic development in Third World countries, with a focus on Central Asia. Dr. Abazov has been contracted as a consultant for different projects, including the Freedom House’s Nations in Transit project and the annual reports of Transition-On-Line on Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. He has written five books and has a number of other publications on economic and political development in Eurasia, including A Historical Dictionary of Turkmenistan (2005) and The Culture and Customs of the Central Asian Republics (2007).