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Myer, William Daniel (1999) Islam and Colonialism: Western Perspectives on Soviet Asia. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Western understandings of Central Asia have reflected the political concerns of both the time and the place in which they were carried out. The thesis reviews British, French and American writing on the area in the period 1950-1985, tracing the development of the Western understanding of the role of Islam in Soviet Asian society. It is argued that this understanding has been shown by events since 1989 to have been substantially erroneous. The direction of the development of Western scholarship is explained by placing it in a political and intellectual context dominated by experiences of anti-colonial revolt and concerns about militant Islam. Other factors having an impact on research outcomes, including the backgrounds of scholars and the means by which research findings are made public are considered. It is suggested that these factors combined to create a substantive bias in the Western understanding of the region which continues to inform approaches to the area. Awareness of the potential and often unconscious sources of bias is essential if research findings are to make a claim to represent 'the real world'.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:21

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