Reviews

In this article, the author succinctly describes the religious revival among women in contemporary Central Asia.  The first part of the article provides a sketch of the history of Islam as an institution with an emphasis on the role of women and a history of the role of the Central Asian otin-oyi, women who oversee the religious education of children in the community, who read the Qur’an and officiate at women’s events and family life cycle rituals.  The rest of the article draws on the author’s field research in the late 1990s on otin-oyis in Uzbekistan, and briefly explores the mainly theological tensions between the “traditional” otin-oyis who practiced during the Soviet period, who incorporate more folk practices and beliefs, and whose status derives in part from their religious lineage, and the “new” otin-oyis, a younger generation that recently began practicing Islam devoutly, whose status derives from their formal religious education (sometimes pursued abroad), and some of whom have “reformist” tendencies and seek to “purify” local Islamic practices.  Overall, the role of women in official religious institutions in Uzbekistan is limited, but not as much as it was in previous eras, and the author lists the various ways that women participate in religious life, including teaching at the two state-run madrasas for women in Tashkent and Bukhara.  There is not much in-depth analysis of the data or reference to broader theoretical frameworks, but the article provides a concise history and an interesting introduction to the topic of the otin-oyi.  It contains notes and references.

Laura L. Adams, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
CER: I-7.4.G-671