Saturday, May 7, 2011

One month countdown

Today marks the one-month countdown until I ship off to Almaty!

I am currently entrenched in the middle of final exams. I have a final Tuesday evening, Wednesday morning, another one Wednesday afternoon, and a paper due Saturday. This time next week, I will be done with my sophomore year in college. What a bizarre concept... where did the time go?!

I spent much of today studying for my "History of Central Eurasia" Exam. The class is absolutely fascinating and covers some 25,000+ years of Eurasian history -- from the Scythians, to the Mongols and the subsequent Chingissid dynasties up to the Soviet Union and the modern states. Historically, the region that comprises the modern day "stans" was not geopolitically confined as such, but was linked to regions in  Xinjiang, China, areas of Afghanistan (Transoxania), and Iran (Persia). Nomads regularly traversed the Eurasian plateau, spreading religions and cultures and trading goods.

I recently came across an interesting article on Eurasianet by Richard Orange on increasing security at the Kazakhstan-China border. Since I have spent the past 10 hours studying historical Central Asian steppe empires, I read this article from a different perspective than I usually would. It strikes me how a region that was historically a natural passageway is now a border, clearly defining two different countries, identities and ways of life. Of course, creating borders across areas that previously were connected is not unique to Central Asia, as there are examples in every continent of the world. From a historical perspective, given the influence of nomadic empires in the Tarim Basin (Xiongnu) and the centrality of the Zhungaria in the movement of nomads, increasing border security is an interesting concept... I understand the need to promote regional security, maybe I've just been in the library for too long and not sleeping enough...

On that note, I'm going to get some sleep before another day of studying. Happy Mothers day!!

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