Gellner, the ‘Saints’ and Central Asia: between Islam and Nationalism SERGEI ABASHIN Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Moscow, Russia s- firstname.lastname@example.org (translated by Caroline Humphrey) ABSTRACT This article assesses the salience for Central Asia of Ernest Gellner’s theories about Islam, modernity and nationalism. Gellner has argued that moderni- sation homogenises culture and that this process goes together with nationalism and certain changes of emphasis within Islam. In Central Asia, Soviet modernisation did not bring long-lasting cultural or social standardis- ation. Evidence for this is that the traditional respect given to the status of ‘saintly’ families has not disappeared, as Gellner would have predicted, but has continued, though in different forms in rural and urban societies. People in Central Asia have complex identities that may sometimes cross-cut the city agrarian divide. In this post-colonial modernising environment, nation- alism has not swept all before it, but is regarded by many people with some suspicion. Keywords: Islam, modernity, nationalism, Central Asia, Gellner Islam has thrown down a challenge to the West. This is not the attacks by ter- rorists-partisans against the coalition forces in Iraq, nor the bombs in Spain or Russia, nor the killings of Europeans in Saudi Arabia or
Inner Asia – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2005
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