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Dr Razia Sultanova

Dr Razia Sultanova

Affiliated Researcher, Central Asia and Caucasus Research Group


Dr Razia Sultanova is a Russian born musicologist and cultural anthropologist. She studied and consequently taught at the Uzbek and Moscow State Conservatories, later moving to the University of London (Goldsmiths College and SOAS), and lastly working at Cambridge University since 2008. Her primary area of research is Central Asian and Middle Eastern culture, which includes studies on ‘Islam and music’ and ‘Gender and music’. For the last twenty years she has been conducting fieldwork in all of the Central Asian republics, the Caucasus, Afghanistan, Turkey, Iran and Inner Mongolia; publishing articles in English, German, French, Chinese, Russian and Uzbek.

Razia has acted as a consultant for several international organizations including UNESCO (in 2005). She has been awarded a number of scholarships, including those in: Germany (DFG in 1993, the Ministry of Culture of the Land of Brandenburg 1994, 1997); France (L’Institut Français d'Etudes sur l'Asie Centrale in 1996, 1997); and in the UK (1999 onwards). Her most recent publications include the articles in "The Journal of the History of Sufism"(CNRS, France),"Asian Research Trends" (The Toyo Bunko, Japan), and a CD entitled "Music of Vanished Courts" (Smithsonian Institution, UNESCO collection for traditional music). Razia Sultanova has edited several volumes including the book “Sacred Knowledge: Schools or Revelation? Master-Apprentice System of Oral Transmission in the Music of the Turkic Speaking World,” published in Germany in 2009. Her monograph “From Shamanism to Sufism: Women, Islam and Culture in Central Asia ” (2014) was recently republished.

Typically her work has centred on ethnomusicology and anthropology, although recently she has taken a particular interest in producing an ethnographic account of Northern Afghanistan and Central Asia, particularly in terms of religious culture and gender issues. The new monograph entitled “Popular culture in Afghanistan” –commissioned by IBTauris – has been submitted is currently in the process of publication. Another book with Ashgate SOAS (in its final preparatory stages) is called “Turks: from Shamanic voices to pop music hits ”, reflecting on cultural traditions of the Turkic world and beyond, covering Iran and Central Asia.

Since 2008, Razia Sultanova has worked at the Cambridge Central Asian Forum, where she organized an international conference on “Popular culture in Turkic Asia and Afghanistan” in December 2012, and a Navruz Concert with the participation of 80 performers from the Turkic speaking world in March 2013. Recently she contributed to the 43d ICTM world Conference in Astana, Kazakhstan (16-22 July 2015) as the Programme Co-Chair, helping to organise the arrival of participants from 70 countries. Razia Sultanova was also elected the Vice President of the International Council for Traditional Music in 2015.

Subject groups/Research projects

Arabic & Persian Studies: