Dr. Thomas Loy


  • History and Memory in Central Asia
  • Jewish Culture and History in Central Asia /Afghanistan
  • Soviet Central Asia
  • Tajik language and literature


2003 M.A. (Magister) in Central Asian Studies, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
2016 Dr. Phil (PhD) in Central Asian Studies, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin


Since March 2021 Research fellow, Oriental Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences
2020 Post-doctoral fellow, Institute of Iranistics, Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna
2009 – 2019 Assistant Professor, Central Asian Seminar, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
2004 – 2008 Researcher and Coordinator of the Oral History Research Project ”Bukharan Jews- Making Meaning of Memories and Identity,“ Central Asian Seminar, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin


2000 – 2001 DAAD scholarship (one year) at the State National University Tajikistan (DDMT), Dushanbe


2018 – 2019 DAAD grants (Go East) for three-weeks summer-schools Tajik Language, Culture and Everyday Life in Dushanbe and Uzbek Language, Culture and Everyday Life in Samarkand
2002 – 2003 DAAD research scholarship (three months), Tajikistan


  • Organization and implementation of the conference “Afghanistan: Von innen und außen / Views from Inside and Outside,” Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, 17-18 February 2018.



Bukharan Jewish periodicals 

In the early 20th century newspapers and periodicals became the main platforms for cultural and political debate among reformist intellectuals in Central Asia and a major tool for knowledge transfer and the connection to the modern world. Founded and funded by the Bukharan Jewish entrepreneur Rahmin Dovidboyev (1880-1937) the first Judeo-Persian weekly Rakhamim (“Mercy”) was published between 1910 and 1914 in Skobelev (today’s Ferghana in Uzbekistan). In Soviet times, the Bukharan Jewish press was transformed from a pioneering privately owned enterprise that served the needs of the Jewish communities throughout Central Asia to an instrument owned and regulated by the state. This projects focusses on the development and transformations of Judeo-Persian / Judeo-Tajik newspapers and periodicals in Central Asia in the first half of the twentieth century and situates them in the broader Central Asian mediascape.

Persophone literary modernity in CENTRAL ASIA, AFGHANISTAN and IRAN

The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries witnessed an intensified debate over the role of Persian literature. The search for a new literary mode of expression came together with the attempt to describe and assess the literary heritage and its limitations. Our working group aims at capturing the spirit of this debate and making it accessible to an international and interdisciplinary academic community.

The focus lies on the manner in which modernity was perceived and reflected by the literary actors (poets, authors, literary critics) themselves. A corpus of original texts from all over the Persophone world written during the period will be presented in English translation, accompanied by biographical notes, a select bibliography and an introduction contextualizing the authors and their ideas.

The working group consists of scholars representing different fields of Persophone literary history:

Christine Nölle-Karimi (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna)

Roxane Haag-Higuchi (Otto-Friedrich University, Bamberg)

Amr Ahmed (Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales, Paris)

Bianca Devos (Philipps-University, Marburg)

Samuel Hodgkin (Yale University, New Haven)

Justine Landau (Harvard University, Cambridge MA)

Thomas Loy (CAS, Oriental Institute, Prague)



Research articles

  • Cross-border biographies: representations of the “Bukharan” Jewish self in changing cultural and political settings, Journal of Modern Jewish Studies (Vol.21, Number 2, May 2022)
  • The Guide to Knowledge: The Journal Rahbar-i Dānish and Its Role in Creating a Soviet Tajik Literature (1927–1932). Iranian Studies, 55(3), 653-674. 
  • Thomas Loy & Zeev Levin (2022) From 'Mercy' to 'Banner of Labour': the Bukharan Jewish press in late Tsarist and early Soviet Central Asia, Central Asian Survey, 41:1, 22-40
  • Connecting Histories and Geographies. The Jews of Central Asia,” New Eastern Europe 5 (2017), 104-110.
  • “’Unmasking Enemies’ Again and Again? The Memoirs of Mordekhay Bachayev and the Revenge of the Soviet Past,” Sonderheft ASIEN 129 (2013), 73-90.
  • From the mountains to the lowlands - the Soviet policy of "inner-Tajik" resettlement,” TRANS…Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften, 16 (2006).

Chapters in collective volumes

  • "Writing oral histories: A Central Asian Jewish family story," in The Written and the Spoken / Mündlichkeit und Schriftlichkeit in Central Asia - Festschrift for Ingeborg Baldauf, eds. Redkollegiia, Potsdam, edition tethys, 2021, 131-161. 
  • “Rise and Fall: Bukharan Jewish Literature of the 1920s and 1930s,” in Iranian Languages and Literatures of Central Asia, eds. Matteo Di Chiara, Evelin Grassi, (Cahier de Studia Iranica XX), Paris, 2015, 307-336.
  • “The Big Fraud – Recollecting the resettlement of the population of the Yaghnob valley,” in Remembering the past in Iranian Societies, eds. Christine Allison, Philip G. Kreyenbroek. Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz, 2013, 141-164.
  • “About a Friend. Reflections on the Memoirs of Mordekhay Bachayev,” in Bukharan Jews in the 20th Century. History, Experience and Narration, eds. Ingeborg Baldauf et al., Wiesbaden, Reichert, 2008, 127-144. 
  • “Close Relatives. The Life Narration of Abrasha (Arkadi) Levayevich Il'yasov,” in Bukharan Jews in the 20th Century. History, Experience and Narration, eds. Ingeborg Baldauf et al., Wiesbaden, Reichert, 2008, 145-175.

Edited volumes

Briefs and other articles

  • “Yaghnob: The Hidden Valley,” Steppe 8, Winter 2010-2011, 36-52.