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Conference on Ismaili Studies: Information Letter Print E-mail

International Conference

Ismaili Traditions and Spirituality of the People of the Pamirs in the Works of Russian Scholars

(dedicated to 125th birth anniversary of Vladimir Alekseyevich Ivanov)


The Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences, Saint Petersburg

The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London, UK

Dates: 8-9/10 December, 2011 (to be confirmed)

Venue: Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences, Saint Petersburg

Languages of the Conference: Russian and English


Russian Oriental Studies produced a vast body of knowledge about the Islamic traditions of the Central Asian Muslims, which date back to the beginning of 19th century. The political activity of the Russian Empire in Central Asia and the encounter with the British Empire in the mountainous terrain of the Pamir and Hindukush mountain ranges prompted extensive documentation of the culture of the mountainous societies, encompassing the religious traditions and practices of the Ismaili Muslim population of the Pamir region. The studies of the region gained momentum during the Soviet period, when Pamir’s diverse linguistic and cultural milieu was brought to the attention of scholars of various fields, including history, ethnography and linguistics.

The pioneering work of Russian scholars, such as Aleksey Bobrinskoy, Ivan Zarubin, Aleksandr Semyonov and Vladimir Ivanov generated much interest in the culture of the Pamirian people and the Ismailism in general among the subsequent generations of the Russian and Soviet scholars, resulting in academic writings about the culture and traditions of the Central Asian Ismailis, including their history and intellectual traditions in the medieval period.

The 125th anniversary of the birth of Vladimir Ivanov, the foremost pioneer of modern Ismaili studies, provides an occasion to commemorate his contribution to Ismaili studies and highlight the extensive scholarship of the Russian and Soviet orientalists on the traditions of the people of the Pamir region. The conference aims to create a forum for discussion and critical reflection of this field of scholarship and examine the ways of orienting and developing Ismaili studies in the Russian Federation. It also aims to create awareness about the present state of the Russian scholarship in the related fields and to discuss relevant experiences of research in historical and contemporary contexts.

The papers to be presented at the conference shall address, but are not limited to the following questions:

  • Evolution of Pamiri and Ismaili studies in Russia and former Soviet Union: How did Russian scholarship on Ismaili and Pamiri studies evolve over the last two centuries? What factors did transform Oriental studies in Russia and the former Soviet Union with regard to Ismaili and Pamiri studies? 
  • Contributions of the Russian scholarship to the Ismaili and Pamiri Studies: What are the salient features of the contributions of the Russian scholarship to modern Ismaili studies? How did the individual scholars’ contributions influence and shape scholarly investigations in the related fields in the course of the 20th century? 
  • Approaches and Methodologies: What are the ideological, conceptual and methodological characteristics of the Russian scholarship in its various periods of history with regard to the Ismaili and Pamiri studies? How did the ideological and methodological constraints manifest themselves in the works of individual scholars?
  • Prospects for the development of critical research in Ismaili and Pamiri studies in Russia: How can we build on the heritage of Russian scholarship to promote Ismaili studies and to further the exploration of the spiritual world of Central Asian mountainous societies? What sources, materials and topics await scholarly investigation? What academic values do they present for the Islamic studies and Humanities?

Important Dates:

15 September, 2011: Abstract submission deadline 1

5 September, 2011: Notification of selection

15 October, 2011: In case of acceptance the full paper will be due

8-9/10, December, 2011 Conference (to be confirmed)

Please send the abstracts to the following e-mail addresses: (IIS) (IOM)

Last Updated ( 01/09/2011 )
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