May 2014

…. The important point is that the root-tree and canal-rhizome are not two opposed models: the first operates as a transcendent model and tracing … the second operates as an immanent process that overturns the model and outlines a map … It is not a question of this or that place on earth, or of a given moment in history … It is a question of a model that is perpetually in construction or collapsing, and of a process that is perpetually prolonging itself, breaking off and starting up again.

A Thousand Plateaus
Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (1987)

Is it exotic?

Most Americans don’t know where landlocked Uzbekistan is on the world map. If we were Russian or European, it may not seem so strange or unusual (or exotic) to go to Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva or Nukus. These places, at the midpoint of the great Silk Road, were busy from 200 BC to the mid-15th century and integral to the economic and cultural development of Western civilization. It is truly were East met West, through the transnational movement of people, ideas and goods.

From the Timurid sites in Samarkand and Shaskhrisabz to the medieval city of Bukhara (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and 10th century Khiva, Uzbekistan deserves notice. If you have any curiosity about Muslim history, culture and architecture, it can be experience in Uzbekistan. It is a place Americans are welcomed, even during this time when other places with deep Muslin cultural roots, like Syria, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan are dangerously inaccessible.

My wife Ruth, was the inspiration for this trip. My brother Archie and his wife, Pat, joined in. We are all explorers, not seeking to climb the highest mountain or to challenge ourselves with extreme or exotic experiences, but rather to learn and expand our understanding of how people live in our world. A world that goes well beyond our continental boarders.

These pictures present my observations during a three week trip. They are purposely made in a straight-on eye-level manner to show with the greatest clarity I can muster, the great monumental Islamic architecture, portraits of a few Uzbek people, and observations of other travelers beating the old pathways of the Silk Road. The topographical pictures will give you a sense of the cultural layers piled on in a place with a long and diverse history.

Uzbekistan is not exotic. It once was an axis mundi – a node that was rich, exciting and culturally diverse. It is still a place of tremendous ethnic, cultural and geographic diversity.

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