Linguist and historian Dr. Barakatullo Ashurov of Tajikistan has been named the 2019 IIE-SRF Beau Biden Scholar. This distinction is awarded annually to an IIE-SRF Fellow who embodies the legacy of Beau Biden, the former Attorney General of Delaware, in pursuing justice and safeguarding vulnerable populations. Dr. Ashurov specializes in the languages and religions of pre-modern Central Asia, particularly those of the Sogdians, who lived in modern-day Tajikistan and Uzbekistan between the fifth and eleventh century CE.
Currently in the second year of his IIE-SRF fellowship, he is a visiting assistant professor at Boston College, where he is teaching undergraduate students and writing a book that explores the history of Christianity in Central Asia from an ethnolinguistic and ethnocultural perspective. He previously completed a position at Harvard University with the support of IIE-SRF in partnership with Harvard Scholars at Risk. In his native Tajikistan, Dr. Ashurov faced censorship and the threat of imprisonment for his advocacy and critical academic efforts to prioritize the community-centered documentation and preservation of minority languages and cultural expressions.
According to IIE-SRF Chairman Mark A. Angelson, “Beau Biden was relentless in his pursuit of truth and justice. Dr. Ashurov honors Beau’s legacy through his work to preserve languages and cultures in Central Asia.” IIE Trustee Senator Ted Kaufman of Delaware, a longtime friend and mentor to Biden, agrees: “Beau believed that our conduct must be driven by our conscience, moral codes, and individual and collective values. These qualities also define Barakatullo Ashurov and his scholarship. IIE-SRF truly is privileged to support him.”