Department of History


Professor in the History of Muslim Peoples of Russia
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(812) 386-76-34
  • Russian Orientalism

Alfrid Bustanov graduated with honors from the History Department at Omsk State University (2009) and twice interned at the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences (2008, 2009). He completed his post-graduate studies and defended his doctoral dissertation on the history of Soviet oriental studies at the University of Amsterdam (2013). He has lectured at Leiden University and the University of Amsterdam. He is the author of a series of articles and monographs on the history of the book culture of Muslims in Siberia, as well as co-editor of a lexicon of biographies of Muslim scholars of Dagestan and a collection of articles on the Russian language as the language of Islam. Since 2005 he has participated in archaeographical, ethnographic and archaeological expeditions in Western Siberia, Southern Kazakhstan, in Dagestan, and the Volga region. Since September 2014 he



  1. Russian Orientalism. 6 credits. 1978 saw the publication of Edward Said's Orientalism. That book has done much to shape the way that we think about "the West," "the East", and interactions between the two. This course begins with Said's work and examines its relevance for Russia. How has "the Orient" been constructed as a major "Other" in the Russian Empire and in the Soviet Union? Is the concept of Orientalism that Said elaborated primarily on the basis of French and British imperialism applicable for Russia? What comprises the Orient for Russia? What are the instruments of constructing the images of Oriental peoples? What is the role of scholarship in defining "Russia's Own Orient"? What is the link between the creation of nations and Orientalist concepts? And finally, is there a "Russian soul" of Orientalism? Is the Russian/Soviet case somewhat specific in comparison to colonialist experience of Western Europe?

  2. The World of Islam in Russia. 3 credits. Islam in Russia has a long history. Our course represents an introduction to its development in Inner Russia with references to Central Asia and Northern Caucasus. Our goal is to go beyond national borders while analysing trans-regional social movements and religious networks, established by Muslims of Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union.

    How did the process of negotiation between the state and Muslim population in various provinces look like? What was the evolution of this politics on both sides? How the Muslim 'minorities' reacted to the challenges of non-Muslim or atheist state? Does it make sense to look at religious history through the lenses of official and illegal Muslim 'clergy'? How does the process of Islamization look like?

    Our specific interest lies in the sphere of Islamic linguistics: how the Russian language is used by the Muslims of Russia today? How the language choice affects the contents of religious discourse?

  3. Political Islam in Russia. 4 credits. The goal of the course is to analyze the political aspects of Islam in Russia with an overview of its history and with a particular emphasis on the Soviet period and the modern situation. What was the fate of Islam in an atheist state? How did the Muslim intellectuals in Russia combine religion and modernity? What are the ways of state manipulation in the field of religious politics in the post-Soviet realm? How do the Russian converts define their place on the present-day map of Islam in Russia? How does the Russian language change, while being used by Muslims for Islamic contents?


List of publications


Research projects:

  • 2014-2016. Source studies of Tatar Sufism from the 19th to early 20th century (with support from the Russian Scientific Foundation for the Humanities (RGNF)).
  • 2014-2015. The Shamail Collection from the Eastern Section of the Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books in the Scientific Library at Kazan State University (with support from the Şihabetdin Märcani Foundation).
  • 2013-2015. Eastern archaeology in Russia in the 20th century: problems of configuring, preserving and studying the written heritage of the Tatar people (with support from the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFFI)).
  • 2013. Private collections of Islamic manuscripts in Russia (with support from the Islamic Manuscripts Association, TIMA, London).
  • Muslim manuscripts in Western Siberia (with support from the Şihabetdin Märcani Foundation).
  • 2012-2014. The sacred family of Siberian Muslims (with support from RGNF).
  • 2010-2011. The pedigrees of Siberian Bukharans (with support from RGNF).
  • 2010-2012. The ethno-social structure of the Middle Irtysh population in the 18th century: from source to image (with support from RGNF).
  • 2009. Relics of Sufism in Western Siberia (with support from RGNF).
  • 2009. Islam in Siberia (with support from DAAD, Germany).
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