After the completion of a PhD in History at SOAS, University of London, Dr Sultonbek Aksakolov has continued to work on the modern history of Ismaili Shia Islam in Central Asia, at the Institute of Ismaili Studies of London, the Silk Road Studies of Uppsala University and the University of Central Asia, Khorog, Tajikistan, while working as a consultant, editor and translator for several international organisations.
Praising the Five Pure Ones: Devotion to the Prophet’s Family among the Ismailis of Central Asia
The devotional practice of the Ismailis of Central Asia express focuses on the Prophet’s Family, known as the Five Pure Ones. Since the Soviet period, it has taken new forms, notably religious poetry in the classical Arabic and Persian genre of qasida performed at a religious or secular gatherings, and it social media since the 2010s, transforming the community’s rituality and sociability.
In the framework of the lecture series: Colloquium ‘Practices of Devotion to the Ahl-e Bayt at Home and in Diaspora: Materiality, Ritual and the Digital Senses’
May 23, 2023 – 10.00 to 11.00 AM – Room BS1-28+BS1-05, Campus Condorcet, Bâtiment de recherche Sud, 14, cours des Humanités, 93300 Aubervilliers.
Introduction to the Modern and Contemporary History of Ismailism in Badakhshan
In the late 19th century, the Ismailis of Badakhshan were divided between British and Russian zones of influence. In the 1930s, the closure of the Soviet border entailed further isolation, combined with antireligious pressure. Ismaili devotional practice adjusted to these contexts, around sacred lineages venerated as transmitters of high culture — against a backdrop marked, since the 1990s, by the competitiveness of the religious sphere.
In the framework of the lecture series: Histoire intellectuelle du chiisme contemporain
May 23, 2023 – 04.00 to 06.00 PM – Room 9, PSL-EPHE, 54, boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris
Religious Education and the Transmission of Learning in the Autonomous Region of Upper Badakhshan: the Soviet and Current Periods
Ismaili religious education underwent dramatic change in Soviet Tajikistan: traditional schools disappeared, teaching being confined within sacred lineages endowed with libraries while elements of religious knowledge passed on through the performance of sacred panegyrics (maddah khwani). The presentation explores the perpetuation of a religious and ethical knowledge through classical literary genres.
In the framework of the lecture series: Atelier Eurasie centrale
- June 6, 2023 – 11.00 AM to 01.00 PM – Room: 5.067, CNRS – PSL/EPHE/GSRL, Campus Condorcet, 14, Cours des Humanités / 93300 Aubervilliers
Hagiographic Experiences among the Ismaili Shias of Badakhshan: Texts, Monuments and Rituals
A specific cult of saints has surged since the 1990s among the Ismailis of Badakhshan, Tajikistan. Texts in verse en prose celebrate religious leaders active in the Soviet period, in their attributions as custodians of faith and high culture. This hagiology mobilises classical genres that bear the deep impact of Sovietisation, while trying to adjust to the new requisites of an expanding religious market.
In the framework of the lecture series: Histoire et anthropologie des sociétés musulmanes : cultures matérielles et pratiques dévotionnelles en Asie du Sud et au-delà
- June 28, 2023 – 10.00 AM to 01.00 PM – Room A 202, EHESS, Campus Condorcet, 2, cours des Humanités 93300 Aubervilliers
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