Till Mostowlansky

Gifts & Roads

Contact me

I am a scholar of modernity, infrastructure, charity, development and Islam in contemporary Central Asia and at its historical crossroads between Russian, British and Chinese influence.

My first book Islam und Kirgisen on Tour: Die Rezeption “nomadischer Religion” und ihre Wirkung (Islam and Kyrgyz on Tour: The Perception of “Nomadic Religion” and Its Effects, Harrassowitz 2007) focuses on Islam and nomadic identity in Kyrgyzstan.

Since then I have pursued two overarching research interests:

First, I am intrigued by the anthropological study of routes, roads and pathways, and the anthropology of infrastructure more generally. This research interest, which I have followed since the early days of my PhD fieldwork, frames my latest monograph Azan on the Moon: Entangling Modernity along Tajikistan’s Pamir Highway (University of Pittsburgh Press 2017).

Second, and emerging from my take on the Pamir Highway as a Soviet gift, I research past and present forms of charity and giving – nowadays often labelled “development” – from the perspective of anthropology and history. In this regard, since 2012 I have worked on the transformative force of Shia Muslim networks which dissect the borderlands of Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and Tajikistan and mediate connectivity to places across Asia.

I am currently a post-doctoral researcher at the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, The University of Hong Kong. Born in Germany to Swiss parents I received an MA from the University of Vienna in Austria and completed my PhD at the University of Bern in Switzerland. Before moving to Hong Kong I lectured at the University of Bern and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore.

Monographs

2017. Azan on the Moon: Entangling Modernity along Tajikistan’s Pamir Highway. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

2007. Islam und Kirgisen on Tour: Die Rezeption “nomadischer Religion” und ihre Wirkung (Islam and Kyrgyz on Tour: The Perception of “Nomadic Religion” and Its Effects). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Edited volumes

& Brook Bolander (eds.). Forthcoming. “Language and Globalization in South and Central Asian Spaces.” International Journal of the Sociology of Language 247.

& Andrea Rota (eds.). 2016. “A Matter of Perspective? Disentangling the Emic-Etic Debate in the Scientific Study of Religion\s.” Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 28(4-5).

& Karénina Kollmar-Paulenz, Anke von Kügelgen (eds.). 2015. “Thematic issue on Central Eurasia.” Asiatische Studien/Etudes Asiatiques 69(3).

Articles in peer-reviewed journals

Forthcoming. “Building Bridges Across the Oxus: Language, Development and Globalization at the Tajik-Afghan Frontier.” International Journal of the Sociology of Language 247.

& Brook Bolander. Forthcoming. “Language and Globalization in South and Central Asian Spaces.” International Journal of the Sociology of Language 247.

2016. “‘The very act of cutting’: Ethnomethodology, Interaction and the Emic-Etic Debate.” Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 28(4-5), 400–420.

& Andrea Rota. 2016. “A Matter of Perspective? Disentangling the Emic-Etic Debate in the Scientific Study of Religion\s.” Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 28(4-5), 317–336.

2014. “Where Empires Meet: Orientalism and Marginality at the Former Russo-British Frontier.” Etudes de lettres 2-3, 179–196.

2014. “The Road Not Taken: Enabling and Limiting Mobility in the Eastern Pamirs.” Internationales Asienforum/International Quarterly for Asian Studies 45(1-2), 153–170.

2013. “‘The state starts from the family’: Peace and Harmony in the Eastern Pamirs.” Central Asian Survey 32(4), 462–474.

2012. “Making Kyrgyz Spaces: Local History as Spatial Practice in Murghab (Tajikistan).” Central Asian Survey 31(3), 251–264.

2011. “Paving the Way: Ismaili Genealogy and Mobility along Tajikistan’s Pamir Highway”. Journal of Persianate Studies 4, 171–188.

Book chapters

2016. “Political Regimes: Central Asia.” Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures.

2016. “Humanitarianism Across Mountain Valleys: ‘Shia Aid’ and Development Encounters in Northern Pakistan and Eastern Tajikistan.” In: Hermann Kreutzmann and Teiji Watanabe (eds.). Mapping Transition in the Pamirs: Changing Human-Environmental Landscapes. Dordrecht: Springer, 229–244.

2015. “‘The state starts from the family’: Peace and Harmony in the Eastern Pamirs.” In: David Montgomery (ed.). Negotiating Well-Being in Central Asia. London and New York: Routledge, 40–52.

2011. “Kyrgyz – Muslim – Central Asian? Recent Approaches to the Study of Kyrgyz Culture in Kyrgyzstan.” In: Stephan Conermann and Michael Kemper (eds.). The Heritage of Soviet Oriental Studies. London and New York: Routledge, 291–305.