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About Edward J Lazzerini

Much of my research continues to focus on the relationship between belief and knowledge in Eurasian commentary traditions—principally within the framework of the Russian Empire—and the impact of modernity on those traditions. Of particular interest is the fate of Islam as adhered to by Turkic peoples in the Volga-Kama, Black Sea, and Caucasus regions between the mid-eighteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Four current projects reflect these themes:
1. Pursuing Modernity: The Thought and Practice of Ismail Bey Gasprinskii. An intellectual biography of the Tatar social commentator and activist generally recognized as the most influential early advocate of modern thought within Islamic Central Eurasia;
2. Belief and Knowledge in Islamic Central Eurasia: The Northern Tier in the 18th and 19th Centuries. A reexamination of the epistemological shift occurring among Tatars and Bashkirs that unraveled the commentary tradition based in core Islamic texts;
3. Southern Exposures: Russia in the Caucasus and Crimea, 1750-1857. An examination of “southernness” in the development of the Russian Empire;
4. Russia's First Muslims and the Conceptualization of Modernity (Jadidism).
In recent years, I have initiated projects that take advantage of the opportunities—afforded by the revolution in personal computing—to handle large data sets more efficiently, rapidly, and flexibly than previously possible for individual researchers. These projects include
1. A prosopography of the Turkic cultural elite in Central Eurasia from the 14th to 20th centuries;
2. A digital site, in collaboration with scholars in Azerbaijan, dedicated to the history of the cartoon and Turkic public opinion in the Russian Empire between 1906 and 1918;
3. A demographic database of village life in the Crimea from 1783 to 1905;
4. A "Big Data" project that will extract and analyze all information from the Russian Empire's metrical books for Muslim subjects, gathered between 1836 and 1917.


Present Adjunct Professor of History, Indiana University Bloomington
Present Affiliate—Russian and East European Institute, East Asian Studies Center, and Islamic Studies Program, Indiana University Bloomington
Present Director, Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center, Indiana University Bloomington
Present Director, Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies, Indiana University Bloomington
Present Professor, Central Eurasian Studies, Indiana University Bloomington

Research Interests

Eurasian Commentary Traditions, Modernity and its Impact on Islamic Societies in the Russian Empire, History of Turkic Peoples, and Comparative History of Early Modern Empires

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Honors and Awards

  • Treadgold Memorial Lecturer for 2003, University of Washington
  • Visiting Scholar, Middle East Studies Center, University of Michigan, 1995
  • Scholar-in-Residence, Middle East Center, University of Utah, 1990
  • Faculty Excellence in Teaching, University of New Orleans, 1985

Contact Information

Central Eurasian Studies Department
Goodbody Hall
Indiana University
Bloomington, IN 47405


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