What's Included in Central Eurasia
"Central Eurasia" -- for the purposes of «Central Eurasian Studies World Wide» -- is a not-too-neatly circumscribed domain on the interior of the Asian continent. Much ink has been spilled trying to come up with definitive definitions. Though the domain encompasses great diversity, there is also cultural continuity across the broad region, as well as shared history and contemporary problems.
The rationale for this broad definition is that much of the region shares one or many of the following characteristics:
Linguistic and cultural roots associated with Iranian and Turkic culture from prehistoric times;
In-migration of Turkic population for over well over a millenium, with Turkic dynasties and Turkic language predominating in many regions and periods, while Persian remained a lingua franca over much of the domain;
Economic life characterized historically by a mixture of pastoral nomadism, settled agriculture, crafts production and trade;
Islam as a predominant religion, as well as, in places, Tibetan Buddhism and local forms of Christianity;
At some historical moments, a position at the center of expansive empires and cultural domains, through much of history occupying a marginal position amidst more powerful states on all sides;
Current problems of autonomous statehood and economic reform.
The contemporary states regions and territories which are covered by this term are, from west to east:
The Caucasus and Caspian Basin lands of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia; Daghestan, Chechnya and the Northern Caucasus generally;
The Turkic and Muslim regions of the Volga Basin and Southern Russia;
The northern parts of Iran, Afghanistan;
The former-Soviet Central Asian states of Turkmenistan, Kazakstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kirghizstan;
The northern edges of Pakistan and India as well as Nepal;
Southern Siberia extending through Tuva and Buryatia to Mongolia.
Xinjiang/Eastern Turkistan and other western regions of China with large Muslim and Turkic population;
Tibet, and Inner Mongolia;
A list of the countries and administrative territories covered includes (not comprehensive):
Some of the partially or wholly overlapping broader regions include:
Southern and Western Siberia
Diversity of Views
There is a considerable diversity of views about the use of these various terms and whether it is appropriate to consider the various parts of "Central Eurasia" together under one field of study. This is true in English-language tradition, and even more true if we take in the different meanings and concepts used in other language traditions. The utility of a given frame of reference will inevitably be contingent on the purposes of any given discussion. What is relevant when considering culture may be different than when considering economy, and ancient or mediaeval times require different frames than the colonial period or the present. Ulitimately, semantic are generally fruitless. What is important is whether people find it useful to consider the various regions in a common discussion, and in the case of Central Asia/Inner Asia/Central Eurasia, this has been amply demonstrated in the scholarship.