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We are walking on this road / No one among the wise has ever known who came last, who came first / In a way, the moon sets before the sun: yet in a way the sun sets first / A strange law rules this world: who comes first, another comes after / Alright, my dear, love your life and be kind to it / But never be too proud, for no one knows who comes last, who comes first / Everyone dreams to dwell in this world and never leave it / This is but wishful thinking: one leaves later, another sooner / Our lives flow like the river / Everyone will reach their home, one later, another sooner / Old or fit, sick or young, no one knows when it will be his turn / This is an unfathomable mystery, both for the past and the future”. [1]


Kim avval, kim ilgari

 (Who comes first, who comes after)

Uzbek poet Chusti (1904–1983)



Professor Edward Alfred Allworth, eminent scholar of Central Asian studies, finally reached “his home” when he passed away on October 20, 2016 at Saint Luke’s Hospital in New York City. The Professor’s passing saddened all of his former students and the Central Asian academic community. Bruce Pannier, Allworth’s former student and a journalist for Radio Free Europe, succinctly described his death as the loss of “the last of the great Masters of Central Asian studies”. [2] Professor Allworth will be long remembered as a visionary American scholar who was a founding director of the Program on Soviet Nationality Problems (1970) and the Center for the Study of Central Asia (1984) at Columbia University. He was an exemplary academic who established and maintained contacts with writers, dissidents and scholars from America, Europe and the former Soviet Union. His international reputation as an American scholar with deep and broad knowledge of the languages, history, arts, culture, and traditions of Central Asia was second to none. The fruits of his labor were many, but Professor Allworth always emphasized that his greatest honor and accomplishment was training numerous students in Central Asian studies. 


I knew Professor Allworth since I had the privilege of taking his graduate Central Asian seminar while obtaining my Master’s degree in Political Science at Columbia University in the early 1990s. Furthermore, I was fortunate to work with him on his last wish to write a book about Central Asia based on his archives. I met with Professor Allworth on a regular basis for several years to organize his archives. The opportunity to work with him allowed me to gain access to his world both personally and professionally. His archives, dating back to the early 1960s, contain a trove of hand-written notes, newspaper clippings, interviews, correspondences, and photos of important figures in Central Asian studies. He collaborated with academic peers like Professor Karl Heinrich Menges on research projects and interviewed Professor Zeki Velidi Togan to obtain an eyewitness account of the events in Turkistan in the early 20th century. Unfortunately, due to the untimely death of his wife Janet and his subsequent health issues, the project was put on hold and never materialized. 


Although Professor Allworth could not complete his final book project, his passing encouraged me to review his archives and research his personal life to discover the legacy he left behind. On December 1, 2020, Professor Allworth would have celebrated his 100th birthday, so it was only befitting that I try to honor him with this memorial. I believe that readers will be fascinated with “the last of the great Masters of Central Asian studies.”

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