Beyond Colonialism? Agency, Power, and the Making of Soviet Central Asia.
Botakoz Kassymbekova, Despite Cultures: Early Soviet Rule in Tajikistan. 272 pp. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016. ISBN-13 9780822964193. $ 28.95.
Adeeb Khalid, Making Uzbekistan: Nation, Empire, and Revolution in the Early USSR. 414 pp. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2015. ISBN-13 978-0801454097. $ 39.95.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, questions of colonialism keep coming up in scholarship on the history of Central Asia. In fact, only few authors outside Russia doubt that tsarist rule in Central Asia was colonial, and we can thus hardly escape the question as to whether Soviet rule was colonial, too. Douglas Northrop, for example, has argued that "the USSR, like its Tsarist predecessor, was a colonial empire. Power ... was expressed across lines of hierarchy and difference that created at least theoretically distinct centers (metropoles) and peripheries (colonies)." (1) To Adeeb Khalid, in contrast, this appeared to be "a world turned upside down," because unlike "modern overseas colonial empires," the Soviet state did not attempt to perpetuate differences but instead sought to "homogenize populations in order to attain universal goals." (2)
The three new books under review contribute to the ongoing debates about Soviet colonialism. At the same time, they remind us of the futility of any attempt to accept or deny unequivocally the colonial nature of Soviet rule in Central Asia. Botakoz Kassymbekova argues in her new book on Soviet Tajikistan that all rigid attempts to classify the Soviet case as a "modern state" or "colonial empire" are "somewhat misleading, since they treat both as separate and unrelated systems of governance, as if they developed historically on opposite premises" (15). According to Abashin, it is precisely the fact that many Central Asians did not perceive the Soviet Union as a Red Empire that should make us wonder about the colonial content: "Looking at colonialism not so much as a sum of certain selected traits but instead as a particular type of narrative and even identity leads to the question why a notable if not predominant part of Central Asian society did not (and does not) think of itself as (post)colonial" (44). Even Adeeb Khalid somewhat softens his earlier argument in his new book, arguing that Soviet attempts to engineer society "have no parallels in the colonial empires of the era" (emphasis mine) and that the Soviet state could never "completely vanquish the habitus of empire" (10).
Although the three authors remain ambivalent about the nature of Soviet rule in Central Asia, their books do reveal the relevance of issues of coloniality and power in writing histories of Central Asia. Arguably, the most defining characteristic of colonial rule does not lie in its antiuniversalism or tendency to perpetuate differences but instead in its foreignness. According to one definition, under colonialism the fundamental decisions about the lives of an indigenous majority are made and implemented by a foreign minority. (3) Questions about the cultural foreignness of colonial rule are crucial not only in colonial studies but also for the three books under review. From where did local elites in Central Asia derive their power to influence the course of events? Did it arise from their own society or from the center, from Moscow? How much power did convinced reformers such as the Jadids derive from the support and "enthusiasm" of the local (indigenous) population? And how significant is the cultural gap between rulers and ruled for our interpretation of Central Asian history?
Questions about the modernity of Soviet rule and about its homogenizing impact should continue to preoccupy historians of Central Asia and the Soviet Union. But the books under review also show that this debate should be disentangled from the attempt to answer the question of whether Soviet state building in Central Asia was colonial or not. The significance of the study of Soviet Central Asia does not lie in assigning labels such as "empire" or "colonialism," but instead in adding a new perspective to debates on continuity and change in Soviet history, as well as on the disrupting effects of Bolshevik and Jadidist attempts to transform, "modernize," and "civilize" supposedly backward regions and peoples. (4) The study of Central Asia highlights that the Soviet state could draw on a range of seemingly contradictory strategies of rule, somewhat paradoxically combining anti-imperialist and civilizatory discourses, repressive and mobilizational practices of governance.
The following review cannot do complete justice to three books that all promise to become classics in their fields. They are all based on an extensive reading of sources in the Turkic (Chagatai/Uzbek), Persianate (Tajik), and Russian languages; cover a wide range of controversial topics; and engage with not only the literature on Central Asia but the extensive literatures on (multiple) modernities, the histories of revolution, Bolshevism, the Soviet system, colonialism, and empire. They raise important themes defined by the region of study, including questions about the foreignness (or coloniality) of Soviet rule, the cultural differences between rulers and ruled, perpetrators and victims of violence, and the role of the geographic distance between center and periphery. Most important, by focusing on these issues in the context of Central Asia all three authors express a shared conviction that Central Asian history is never Soviet or colonial history only but always inseparable from both.
Adeeb Khalid's new book is a thoughtful attempt to provide an interpretation of the eventful and complex history of Central Asia and Uzbekistan during and after the 1917 revolutions. While we have excellent new studies of the making of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan, (5) recent historiography of Central Asia has only touched upon selected aspects of the history of early Soviet Uzbekistan such as ethnic conflict, antireligious campaigns, filmmaking, the movement for women's emancipation, or the history of one particular locale. (6) Khalid, in his turn, tries to provide an up-to-date overview covering a wide range of crucial issues, including the Central Asian rebellion of 1916, the revolutionary events of 1917, the short-lived autonomy in Kokand, and the Bukharan Socialist Republic, as well as the national-territorial delimitation in 1924, collectivization, and Stalinist terror.
Some authors have argued that the Bolsheviks succeeded in asserting their power over Central Asia because they had the military means to subdue. The Bolsheviks quashed local resistance, including the attempts to create autonomous governments in Kokand and Bukhara. Their campaigns to "liberate" and "unveil" women and the creation of new state structures and systems of knowledge have been interpreted as the imposition of power of a foreign minority onto an indigenous minority. (7) In his new book, Adeeb Khalid attempts to deconstruct such a binary division, arguing that local society was far more diverse and divided. Local elites who chose to ally with the Bolsheviks were not simple "collaborators" but rather independent actors with their own goals and vision of the future of Central Asia. Khalid, an expert on the history of the so-called Jadid movement, argues that many Uzbek intellectuals witnessed the revolution as a time of opportunity that gave them the chance to realize their ideas about radical cultural reform and "modernization" of a supposedly "backward" and "stagnant" Muslim society. (8) Their ideas about reform did not originate in Bolshevism but in ongoing debates about reform within the wider Islamic world. Nevertheless, the Jadids and the Bolsheviks shared a cultural radicalism that would facilitate their collaboration during the years of revolution.
Khalid interprets the revolution in Central Asia, first and foremost, as a struggle within local societies. Jadids (respectively, "Muslim intellectuals") were only one out of many heterogeneous groups of actors, and they initially faced more opposition from within Central Asian communities than from European outsiders. For example, in discussing the postrevolutionary unrest in the Ferghana Valley (quickly labeled the "Basmachi rebellion"), Khalid interprets it not in terms of an ethnic conflict but as "a struggle against the power cities cast over the countryside." The rebellion was directed not only against Bolsheviks or Russians but also against the Jadids. From this perspective, the Basmachi rebellion was not an anticolonial uprising but rather an integral part of an internal "Central Asian civil war."
Despite emphasizing the complexity of internal social and political conflicts, Khalid divides indigenous actors in his story of the revolutionary Uzbekistan into two broadly defined groups. On the one hand, there were Muslims "who shared an orientation to the future and who were at home with the ideas of progress and civilization," and on the other hand, "traditionalist conservatives ... who anchored their authority in the past and its traditions, whose inheritors they claimed to be" (10-11). As the progressives were more willing to collaborate with the Bolsheviks than the conservatives, they were more likely to implement at least some of their ideas under the new conditions created by the revolution. Therefore, it seems legitimate that Khalid mainly focuses on this relatively small but active group of progressive elites. (9)
In fact, this approach allows Khalid to fundamentally revise the history of the making of nations in Central Asia. Instead of emphasizing the role of outside actors such as ethnographers or Bolsheviks, Khalid focuses on indigenous actors, who seized the moment to realize their dream of a Turkic nation in Central Asia. (10) Their project was based on a celebration of the Turko-Islamic tradition of statehood embodied by Timur, the founder of the Timurid Empire, and on an imagined dividing line between sedentary and nomad, Turkic- and Persian-speaking populations in Central Asia. In this interpretation, the creation of Uzbekistan was not the result of a conscious Bolshevik strategy of divide and rule but instead the fulfillment of "a prerevolutionary project of the national intelligentsia carried out in Soviet conditions and reshaped by them." Just like other nations, the Uzbek nation was "imagined and constructed in modern times through the complex interaction of intellectuals, state power, the classificatory grid of science, and much else" (286).
Although ultimately the Bolsheviks were able to impose their rule on Central Asia, it was never irrelevant for the direction of reform whether the ideas were rooted in indigenous or Bolshevik debates. For example, based on his knowledge about the discussions among Uzbek intellectuals, Khalid questions the argument that the creation of the Tajik republic was a top-down process, designed to counter pan-Turkism. (11) On the contrary, Tajikistan came into being as a result of the rise of Turkism. From the perspective of modernist intellectuals, Tajiks were the "predominantly rural population of the mountain fastnesses of eastern Bukhara, the only place with a self-contained Persian-speaking population in Transoxania" (292). The creation of the Tajik Republic was not the result of a conscious strategy of rule but instead a byproduct of the Uzbek national project.
Khalid underscores the importance not only of indigenous actors but also of ideologies and ideals during an era of revolutionary changes. He even goes so far as to argue that the intellectuals did not necessarily adapt their political positions because of Bolshevik ideological pressure but because of an ongoing internal process of radicalization. For example, he emphasizes the role of indigenous "activists" in mobilizing "enthusiasm" for so-called korenizatsiia or for the campaign to unveil women (165). Khalid also reveals how widespread "anticlericalism" was in Central Asia (just as it was in other parts of the Russian Empire) before and during the revolution. The perception of ulama and the Sufis as corrupt and backward was not necessarily a product of the Bolshevik propaganda but was instead rooted in the ideas of Muslim cultural reform (256). Khalid also argues that such an influential Jadid intellectual as Abdurauf Fitrat did not start to propagate atheism because he was forced to, but because under the revolutionary circumstances he reconsidered and radicalized his thinking (256). (12) While this reading of the sources is often innovative, it may also cause some controversy in the light of studies such as Kassymbekova's or Abashins, which tend to treat ideological pronouncements as strategic tools in struggles for power and survival on the Soviet periphery.
Botakoz Kassymbekova focuses on the strategies of Soviet state builders in Central Asia in the 1920s and 1930s. Discussing the period after the revolutionary upheaval, Kassymbekova concentrates not so much on ideas as on the mechanisms of governance in the remote Soviet periphery--Tajikistan, in particular. She argues that the Soviet system there was based on a network of individuals, whose loyalty to communism was monitored through a chain of command that stretched from Moscow via Tashkent to Dushanbe/ Stalinabad. By personalizing its rule, the Stalinist regime was able to bypass local networks and implement its decisions despite the geographic and cultural distance from the center (hence the books title "despite cultures"). Kassymbekova's book is an important contribution not only to the history of Central Asia and Tajikistan but also to the historiography on such diverse topics as the Soviet judicial system, practices of denunciation, terror and violence, Soviet governance and state building, the role of individuals and their networks within Stalinism, and modern and (neo)traditional practices in the Soviet system of rule.
Most of the actors in Kassymbekova's book were members of the newly created party and state apparatus. Their decisions and actions were not driven by enthusiasm for the revolutionary project but were motivated by the desire for material gain, by a thirst for power, and by local economic conditions and their position within local networks. Even Soviet officials who had been born in Central Asia usually arrived in Tajikistan as "consciously chosen outsiders" (126). All of them understood their personal responsibility for the outcome of the campaigns that they were supposed to implement, and they constantly feared failure (87). Ultimately, however, it was Stalin who acted as the "sole arbiter of the situation, centralizing power in his hands" (93). This also means that no clear distinction between "colonizers" and "colonized" seems possible: any group of actors was subjected to both promotion and repression. Individuals responsible for initiating new rounds of campaigns could easily be both heroes and scapegoats, perpetrators and victims, of Stalinist campaigns.
In contrast to Khalid, Kassymbekova tends to interpret ideological statements as mere strategies in local struggles for power. This can partly be explained by the fact that she does not concentrate on the years of uncertainty during the revolution, Civil War, and New Economic Policy (NEP) but on the period of assault and upheaval associated with the Cultural Revolution or the Great Break and on the actors who were empowered by Stalin. However, the difference also lies in their approach. While Khalid often takes the publications of his actors as genuine expressions of political views, Kassymbekova interprets ideology as a strategic tool in struggles for power and survival. Khalid's actors usually mean what they say, while Kassymbekova's actors usually say what saves them.
For example, Kassymbekova regards the local officials' statements of the "backwardness" of local Muslims and their inability to understand Soviet slogans and ideology as "mechanisms of adaptation" to the Soviet project. In her opinion, frequent criticism of the persistence of backwardness and the failure to civilize Central Asia was a "defense mechanism" of local elites against purges and reprimands for not achieving plans (2) and should be interpreted as a way of speaking Bolshevik on the Soviet periphery.
According to Kassymbekova, the difference between officials often "did not lie in their identity as Muslim or European," but instead in a particular persons position within the government and "whether it entitled him (and it was usually a he) to carry a gun" (46). Issues of culture and ethnicity became important political instruments in struggles for power and resources, leading to an ethnicization of political debates. They were usually subordinate to campaigns of collectivization or purges, economic planning, or territorial defense (17). Ultimately, it was the remoteness from the center, not the culture of Tajikistan, that determined the means and methods of rule. Personal networks helped the regime to rule despite the cultural and geographic distances involved, "yet it also became a problem for central rulers to ... rely on and force through one homogenous and transparent application of decrees, rules, and orders" (203). This is also why anybody could enjoy promotion but also be affected by violence and repression.
Kassymbekova's book is about governance and about "Soviet officials' understandings, strategies, and representations of the new system that they were tasked with and entitled to install and represent." Soviet rule in Tajikistan resulted in violence as well as political, social, and cultural transformation. Kassymbekova's book tells us a lot about the limitations of the Stalinist system of governance on a remote periphery but contains less information about how the ideas and violent practices of Bolshevism were transmitted to the societies of Central Asia. We must read Abashin's book to better understand how the contradictory effects of the revolution and Sovietization were felt at the grassroots level throughout the 20th century.
Sergei Abashin's book is a study of Oshoba, one "Uzbek" village or kishlak (original meaning: winter settlement) in a part of the Ferghana Valley that nowadays belongs to Tajikistan. From this local perspective, Abashin analyzes the nature of tsarist and Soviet rule in the region, the transformation of traditional life, and various attempts to change and "modernize" a village community in Central Asia. Abashin's opus magnum is the result of more than 20 years of ethnographic research and reflection. The subjects covered are diverse and range from the conquest of Oshoba in 1875 and imperial practices of rule through the revolutionary events of 1917 and the rebellion of the so-called Basmachi to the reproduction of Stalinist hierarchies at the local level and collectivization. Separate chapters deal with the history of a local hospital, the "practical logic" of Islam, and wedding customs under socialism. Abashin's book is unique in the context of not only Central Asian studies but also Soviet history in offering an interpretation of continuities and changes in the social life of one village and in engaging with the most recent scholarship on the Soviet era as a whole. (13)
Ahashin analyzes how tradition, modernity, Soviet identity, and colonialism intersected in one specific place (he uses the word "locality," local'nost'). He focuses on how "practices of localization" changed and how local communities produced and reproduced themselves in different historical periods. In his book, social and cultural forms are never stable but instead constantly being challenged, destabilized, and renormalized. The local approach allows Abashin to identify those historical influences that became dominant and those that were marginalized and lost their importance. Like Kassymbekova's study, Abashin's microhistory of Oshoba reveals that there was little "enthusiasm" from below for greater ideological change. However, Abashin's actors are not solely driven by their personal networks and dependencies within the apparatus of rule but also by local interests, identities, networks, and values.
According to Abashin, many of the conflicts that erupted immediately prior to and after the revolution were rooted in local conditions. Even the 1916 rebellion, which might seem like an archetypical anticolonial revolt, was not entirely centered on issues of ethnicity or colonialism. For example, in the Ferghana and Asht regions it was not the Russian colonizers who usually suffered but rather native representatives of the local administration and their relatives. Violence quickly turned into an "everyday practice," a means of solving problems and accumulating social and material capital (131). Still, even during the "Central Asian civil war," "Basmachi" rebels had to define their goals, taking into account local environments, interests, and stereotypes (146). Even when the insurgents did see their rebellion as a part of a larger, united struggle of the people of Ferghana against Soviet power, they nevertheless had to translate their views into a language that was accessible to the local population of Oshoba (135).
The study of Oshoba reveals what the revolution meant to people in a remote rural region. Some activists took advantage of the new political circumstances and gained certain privileges for their community or for themselves. They supported Soviet power in the kishlak, learned Russian and the ideological language of the state (269). Other inhabitants of Oshoba followed a conservative agenda to keep their immediate environment intact. Some local actors used the new circumstances to settle old scores, while others feared expulsion from their communities.
In what may well be the most impressive chapter of his book, Abashin analyzes the role of Ortyk Umurzakov, the "little Stalin" of Oshoba, who was still alive when Abashin conducted his research during the 1990s. Abashin tells the story of the head of the local sel'sovet, who, according to some of his respondents, was a "criminal" ruling the village on his own and only in his own interests. However, other members of the community justified Umurzakov's actions, arguing that his cruelty was a result of circumstances: "Umurzakov was an honest person, and he was a good leader, very brutal, but good. There was order. He ruled like Stalin." This leads Abashin to the question: "Who were these little Stalins? In whose name did they rule and what did they want? Were they the rulers or the ones through whom the state ruled?" (247). Abashin concludes that, on the one hand, individuals and groups used Soviet institutions and symbols to further their local goals, and sometimes even went into opposition against those in power. The Soviet rulers, on the other hand, exploited conflicts among local groups to implement new rounds of reforms. The final result was the strengthening of outside influences on the local community (311).
At the same time, despite the antitraditionalism of Bolshevik ideology, Soviet rule resulted not only in the destruction but also in the transformation of tradition (if sometimes in unintended ways). Perhaps not surprisingly, institutions such as the mahalla, local wedding customs, or traditions associated with Islam still played central roles in the lives of the inhabitants of Oshoba when Abashin started his field research after the collapse of the Soviet Union. On the whole, instead of being colonized by outsiders, Oshoba was remade and reinvented as a "Soviet kishlak" by a range of different actors, not only from outside but also from within the community. Abashin's book thus captures the overlaps and intersections of identities in a remote locale that was reshaped by both colonial and Soviet practices of rule.
Taken together, the three books remind us that the history of Soviet rule in Central Asia cannot be explained in terms of a clear-cut conflict between center and periphery, between colonizers and colonized. In fact, phenomena often described as "colonial" in the Central Asian context can also be found elsewhere, even in the Soviet "center" itself. Civilizatory discourses, the (neo) traditionalism of Stalinist practices of personalized rule, the persistence of clan-like networks, the high degree of political centralization, and the cultural distance between rulers and ruled were by no means confined to (former) colonial contexts.
At the same time, it is worth emphasizing that in all three books the most important decision makers ultimately derived a significant part of their power to act from the center. The Jadids could only act as long as their political aims did not openly contradict those of the Bolsheviks. Local officials derived their power from their personal connections to higher officials and ultimately from Stalin. Even ordinary villagers had to adapt constantly to new political circumstances and conditions. Thus, although the borders between rulers and ruled often blurred, local people hardly had a chance to influence the most fundamental decisions about their lives, which were made in a geographically and culturally distant metropole. This also helps explain not only why historical actors often likened Soviet rule to colonialism, but also why it still makes sense to use Central Asia as a testing ground for the exploration of issues of coloniality within the Soviet context.
D-91054 Erlangen, Germany
I would like to thank Ulrich Hofmeister and Liudmila Novikova for their comments on an earlier version of this review.
(1) Douglas Northrop, Veiled Empire: Gender and Power in Stalinist Central Asia (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2003), 22-23.
(2) Adeeb Khalid, "Backwardness and the Quest for Civilization: Early Soviet Central Asia in Comparative Perspective," Slavic Review 65, 2 (2006): 231-51, here 232-33; Khalid, "Introduction: Locating the (Post)Colonial in Soviet History," Central Asian Survey 26, 4 (2007): 465-73.
(3) See, e.g., the definition in Jurgen Osterhammel, Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview (Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2010), 16.
(4) The debate about the modernity of the Soviet experiment is ongoing, in part because of the difficulty of defining the term and in part due to some scholars' insistence on making binary divisions between exceptionality and modernity and between tradition and modernity. However, neither the difference (exceptionalism) of the Soviet state nor the persistence of tradition (or backwardness) seems to justify the exclusion of the Soviet case from the broader history of global (or multiple) modernities. For a recent discussion, see Michael David-Fox, Crossing Borders: Modernity, Ideology, and Culture in Russia and the Soviet Union (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015), 9. On the modernity of tradition, see the classic text: Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, eds., The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012).
(5) Paul Bergne, The Birth of Tajikistan: National Identity and the Origins of the Republic (London: Tauris, 2007); Adrienne Edgar, Tribal Nation: The Making of Soviet Turkmenistan (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004); Benjamin Loring, "Building Socialism in Kyrgyzstan: Nation-Making, Rural Development, and Social Change, 1921-1932" (PhD diss., Brandeis University, 2008). On the origins of the project of a Kazakh nation, see Steven Sabol, Russian Colonization and the Genesis of Kazakh National Consciousness (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). Most recent scholarship on the early Soviet history of Kazakhstan has focused on the years of collectivization, sedentarization, and famine; nevertheless, the books also contain valuable information on the making of the republic. See Niccolo Pianciola, Stalinismo di frontiera: Colonizzazione agricola, sterminio dei nomadi e costruzione statale in Asia Centrale (1905-1936) (Rome: Viella, 2009); Isabelle Ohayon, La sedentarisation des Kazakhs dans I'URSS de Staline: Collectivisation et changement sociale, 1928-1945 (Paris: Maisonneuve & Larose, 2006); Sarah Cameron, "The Hungry Steppe: Soviet Kazakhstan and the Kazakh Famine, 1921-1934" (PhD diss., Yale University, 2010); and Robert Kindler, StalinsNomaden: Hunger und Herrschaft in Kasachstan (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 2014).
(6) Important works include Northrop, Veiled Empire; Marianne Kamp, The New Woman in Uzbekistan: Islam, Modernity, and Unveiling under Communism (Seatde: University of Washington Press, 2006); Shoshanna Keller, To Moscow, Not Mecca: The Soviet Campaign against Islam in Central Asia, 1917-1941 (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2001); Cloe Drieu, Fictions nationals: Cinema, empire et nation en Ouzbekistan (1919-1937) (Paris: Editions Karthala, 2013); Marco Buttino, La rivoluzione capovolta: L'Asia centrale tra il crolle dell'impero zarista e la formazione dell'URSS (Naples: L'ancora del Mediterraneo, 2003); Jeff Sahadeo, Russian Colonial Society in Tashkent, 1865-1923 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007); and Christian Teichmann, Macht der Unordnung: Stalins Herrschafi in Zentralasien, 1920-1950 (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 2016). The last attempt to write a comprehensive history of the revolutionary events in Turkestan (Uzbekistan) dates back to the 1950s. See Alexander G. Park, Bolshevism in Turkestan: 1917 1927(New York: Columbia University Press, 1957).
(7) For such an interpretation, see Northrop, Veiled Empire, 21; and Paula A. Michaels, Curative Powers: Medicine and Empire in Stalin's Central Asia (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003), 4.
(8) For that earlier work, see Adeeb Khalid, The Politics of Muslim Cultural Reform: Jadidism in Central Asia (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998).
(9) Some critics have argued that Khalid excessively focuses on a small minority of actors, ignoring or even debasing other groups. See the polemics in Devin DeWeese, "It Was a Dark and Stagnant Night ('til the Jadids Brought the Light): Cliches, Biases, and False Dichotomies in the Intellectual History of Central Asia," Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 59, 1-2 (2016): 37-92; and Paolo Sartori, "Towards a History of the Muslims' Soviet Union: A View from Central Asia," Die Welt des Islams 50, 3-4 (2010): 315-34. In my opinion, it would certainly be desirable to have more research on other political actors beyond the small group of radicals, but this does not diminish the significance of Khalid's book and of the Jadids in shaping the course of events during the revolutionary era.
(10) On the role of ethnographers, see Francine Hirsch, Empire of Nations: Ethnographic Knowledge and the Making of the Soviet Union (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005). On the role of Bolshevism, see Terry Martin, 7he Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001).
(11) See Olivier Roy, The New Central Asia: Geopolitics and the Birth of Nations (London: Tauris, 2007), 67-69; and Kassymbekova, Despite Cultures, 66-67.
(12) This directly contradicts the consensus among scholars according to which Fitrat's reconsideration of his views was a result of outside pressure. See Jeff Eden, Paolo Sartori, and Devin DeWeese, "Moving beyond Modernism: Rethinking Cultural Change in Muslim Eurasia (19th-20th Centuries)," Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 59, 1-2 (2016): 1-36, here 17.
(13) Abashin himself mentions the prehistory of this genre in Soviet ethnographic research and the so-called kolkhoz monographs of the Soviet era. On the history of the genre, see also Sergey Abashin, "Ethnographic Views of Socialist Reforms in Soviet Central Asia: Collective Farm (Kolkhoz) Monographs," in Exploring the Edge of Empire: Soviet Era Anthropology in the Caucasus and Central Asia, ed. Florian Muhlfried and Sergey Sokolovskiy (Munster: Lit, 2011), 83-98. Nevertheless, taking his inspiration from a wide range of scholarship on Soviet and post-Soviet history and ethnography, Abashin lifts this genre to an entirely new level.
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|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2017|
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