John Schoeberlein's picture

John Schoeberlein


John Schoeberlein is a social anthropologist with nearly three decades of experience researching Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Muslim societies of Eurasia generally. Prior to coming to Nazarbayev University in 2012, he established and directed the Program on Central Asia and the Caucasus at Harvard University (Cambridge, USA) for nearly two decades, and he also served as Visiting Professor at the Eurasian National University (Astana), and at the American University of Central Asia (Bishkek), among many other roles. He received his Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from Harvard University in 1994. His research focuses on identity, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, and community organization. He has conducted a total of over six years of anthropological field research in post-Soviet countries, mainly in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Russia. Themes of his current research include: the changing role of Islam in former-Soviet societies, the development of new cultural orientations including revival of traditions and global cultural influences in Eurasia, discourses and practices of morality in everyday life, Soviet cultural and social legacies, and the interaction between culture and politics in post-Soviet Eurasia. He has done much work in the realm of policy-related research, advising and advocacy. For example, during 2000-01, he was Director of the Central Asia Project of the International Crisis Group, working to diminish the possibilities for conflict in the region. During 1998-99, he headed the United Nations’ Ferghana Valley Development Programme, working on participatory approaches to conflict resolution in the region. He played the leading role in establishing the Central Eurasian Studies Society, holding the position of the first President from 2000 to 2003, and continuing to lead the organization through 2007. He has been involved in a number of initiatives aimed at development of social science and cultural studies scholarship on Central Asia and the former Soviet Union. These include leadership of the Central Asia and Caucasus Research and Training Initiative (CARTI) of the Open Society Foundations, and projects aimed at developing the study of anthropology, religion and particularly Islam in among university faculty-level researchers in Eurasia.