Central Asia is not a particularly specific geographic term. It evokes a host of varying, exotic images and is a designation that was not used outside

of the region until it appeared in travel narratives during the first half of the nineteenth century.1 Before then, Central Asia was normally known as Bactria or Turkestan (obviously failing to appreciate the widespread influence of Persian civilization). Central Asia is a contestable term for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it assumes there is also an outer Asia. Contemporary scholars are just now beginning to reflect on the ways such appellations are historically rooted within the framework of misleading orientalist assumptions. One such observer admitted, “Central Asia can be as broad as ‘Inner Asia’ or even as ‘Central Eurasia’…or it can be as narrow as the oases of the three Turkestans, Russian, Chinese and Afghan.”2