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The Islamic Factor: Socialists, Islamists and the Soviet Union in Cold War Eurasia

Afghan Series lecture by Timothy Nunan, Free University of Berlin

Tuesday, February 27, 2018
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
10383 Bunche Hall

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The conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union has long been understood in an international context, but little is known about the ways in which the Cold War transformed the decades-long struggle between socialists, and Islamists in the Middle East. The struggle between American capitalism and Soviet socialism framed and later became entangled with projects aimed at transforming a "Muslim world" into a geopolitical bloc. Nowhere was this more visible than during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Yet instead of acting as a crucible for Muslim unity, theaters like Afghanistan became a battleground between the Muslim world politics of various pan-Islamic actors. By de-centering the USA and the USSR from the center of the narrative, this talk aims to show how the contours of a sectarian Middle East were conditioned by the interaction of the superpowers and left-wing actors with Islamists.

Sponsor(s): Center for European and Russian Studies, Program on Central Asia