Reviews

This exceptionally well-edited and epoch-making “Cyclopaedia” is part of a series of “Cyclopaedias” of areas studies.  The present volume includes more than one thousand notices and forty special articles of larger dimensions.  The Editors’ definition of Central Eurasia comprises the Crimea, the Caucasus, the Volga-Ural region, Central Asia (including Xinjiang), Afghanistan, south-western Siberia, and a significant part of the Mongol world.  The project, achieved after three years of thorough preparation, deals with a wide range of disciplines such as history, linguistic, religion, politics and economy.  One of the more notable points of this Cyclopaedia is that, in view of recent dramatic changes and of the growing global significance of this region, it contributes to highlight recent events in the area, such as the late twentieth-century Afghan wars, the Aral Sea issue, Islamic revivals, gender issues, the local emergence of market economies, the growing significance of oil and gas extraction, democratisation processes and many other important facts and events.  Another quality of this impressive book is that it unifies the studies of ‘Oriental’ and ‘Russian’ histories, through focuses on the pre-modern history and culture of the regions.  It also shed light on many aspects of the natural environment and everyday life in Central Eurasia, with notices on “music,” “family,” “environment,” “education,” “food culture,” “rites and ceremonies in life cycle,” “festivals,” and “bazaar”.  In recent years, a growing number of young Japanese researchers have been specialising in Central Eurasian studies, and their themes of research have become diverse and highly specialised.  An increasing amount of these scholars have experienced living extensively in these areas, acquiring language skills not limited to Russian or Chinese languages, but extended to Turkic languages, Persian, and Arabic.  Access to post-Soviet countries has become easier and therefore has also improved the access to source materials both in quality and in quantity.  It is no exaggeration to say that every part of this cyclopaedia includes the fruits of this rapidly expanding young research.  The texts are illustrated by numerous illustrations and figures, and enriched by appendixes comprising maps, genealogical tables, an overall chronological table, guides to newly independent countries of the former USSR, a rich bibliography including a multilingual mass of recent publications, as well as information on useful websites.  The innumerable photographs, old and new, dispatched all over the volume will no doubt powerfully contribute to stir the readers’ imagination.

Kawahara Yayoi, Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science, Tokyo
CER: I-1.3.C-106