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The place of Kazakhstan in the study of Central Asia.

Among the republics of Central Asia, Kazakhstan represents a distinct geographical, geopolitical, cultural, and historical entity. (1) In the west and north, Kazakhstan constitutes a borderland belt (poias prigranich'ia) with Russia and its territories of the lower Volga, southern Urals, and Siberia. In the east, the region borders on China, while the southern and southeastern portions can be considered part of Central Asia. As a territory inhabited historically by nomads, Kazakhstan has seen its historical and cultural significance rise and fall, periodically becoming either the center or the periphery of ethnopolitical and ethno-cultural processes in the region. This history raises a series of questions: What place does Kazakhstan occupy in Central Asia? Has Central Asia existed as a single and coherent region? What role has the study of Central Asia and Kazakhstan played in attempts to understand the state organization, history, and culture of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union? In my view, exploration of these questions should broaden academic interest in the history of Central Asia--a history that occupies a critical place in any effort to make sense of historical processes in neighboring countries such as China, Russia, Iran, and Afghanistan.

A Complex Nomenclature

Any attempt to answer these questions must begin with nomenclature, which proves to be especially complicated in the case of Kazakhstan and Central Asia. Indeed, considering the history of the term "Central Asia" allows us not only to see that there have been various names for the region and disagreement concerning the definition of its borders and to understand the significance of Kazakhstan within a broader regional system. (2) Such a consideration also shows that the meaning of "Central Asia" has changed over time, depending on such factors as the political context, the attitude of authors to particular geographical and historical phenomena, and so on.

The term "Central Asia" first became a part of geographical and historical scholarship in the 19th century, thanks to the German natural scientist Alexander von Humboldt. (3) Although his travels in the Russian Empire included only the middle and southern Urals, the Altai, the Volga delta around Astrakhan, and the nearby Kazakh steppe, Humboldt nonetheless defined the boundaries of the entire region, characterizing it as an internal space of the Asian continent extending from the Caspian Sea in the west to an indefinite border in the east.

The German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen offered a more exact definition of "Central Asia" while dividing the region into two parts. "Central Asia" proper, according to Richthofen, encompassed the space from Tibet in the south to the Altai in the north, and from the Pamir Mountains in the west to the Khingan range in the east. (4) Richthofen described the lowlands between the Aral and Caspian Seas--which in the 18th and 19th centuries were dominated economically and culturally by Kazakhs of the tribal confederation of the Alimuli of the Little Horde--as a transitional zone. (5) The intermediate space of the Kazakh steppe that Richthofen identified reveals a distinct geopolitical feature of Kazakhstan, which linked different parts of Central Asia into a regional system. For similar reasons, one may suppose, Russian researchers of the first half of the 19th century characterized the territories of the Little and Middle Hordes (the northern, western, and central parts of Kazakhstan) as the "Kirgiz-Kazak hordes and steppes" (kirgiz-kaisatskie ordy i stepi) but regarded the southern portions of the Kazakh steppe, controlled by the khanates of Kokand and Khiva and the emirate of Bukhara, as part of "Middle Asia." (6) It is significant that whereas in the first half of the 19th century the term "Kirgiz steppe" was used with the qualifiers "of western Siberia" or "under the jurisdiction of Orenburg," from 1882 on, Russian authorities used the more encompassing toponym the "Steppe," once they had created the Steppe General-Governorship (Stepnoe general-gubernatorstvo) and decisively separated the northern, western, and eastern parts of the steppe zone of Kazakhstan from the southern portions. This kind of territorial division reflected the fact that the steppe transcended the boundaries of Kazakhstan: the northern territories of the steppe represented, in Peter Is figurative expression, "the keys and gates ... to all Asiatic countries and lands" but did not themselves represent "Middle Asia," in contrast to the southern and southeastern territories. (7) Russian intellectuals used this distinction not only to highlight the economic and cultural differences of the two regions--the sedentary and agricultural character of Middle Asia, on the one hand, and the nomadic society of Kazakhstan, on the other--but also the degree of social and political integration of the territories in question within the Russian Empire by the 1860s--complete in the case of the steppe but only initial for southern Kazakhstan and the Middle Asian khanates. (8) In short, from early on Kazakhstan was effectively both within and beyond Central or Middle Asia.

At the same time, the appearance of the term "Middle Asia" still generated confusion concerning territorial definitions. The second edition of the Brockhaus and Efron Small Encyclopedic Dictionary of 1909 used the mixed term "Central Middle Asia" (Tsentral'naia Sredniaia Aziid) as a way of defining the internal part of the Asian continent: the Iranian plateau and the basin of Turkestan. The same dictionary also referred to Russia's "Middle Asian possessions" (Sredneaziatskie vladeniid), a concept that united the northern territories of the Kazakh steppe along the borders of the Ural, Turgai, Akmolinsk, and Semipalatinsk regions, with its southern part (the Semirech'e and Syrdar'ia regions), along with the Samarkand and Fergana regions, Khiva, and Bukhara. (9) One consequence of this terminological confusion was the appearance of the term "Turkestan" in Russian historical literature in the second half of the 19th century. (10) Thus the renowned geographer V. P. Semenov-Tianshianskii construed the "Turkestan region" to include the territories of the Transcaspian, Samarkand, Syr-Dar'ia, Fergana, and Semirech'e regions and the khanates of Khiva and Bukhara--that is, the oasis parts of Middle Asia and the south of Kazakhstan. (11) Thus by the late 19th century there were three competing and partially overlapping terms--Central Asia, Middle Asia, Turkestan--designed to describe roughly the same territory.

The conceptual and actual division of Kazakhstan's territory continued by inertia into the first years of Soviet power. On 30 April 1918, Soviet authorities created the Turkestan ASSR, with its capital at Tashkent, incorporating the southern part of Kazakhstan and the Middle Asian khanates. Some two years later, on 26 August 1920, the Kirgiz ASSR appeared. With its capital at Orenburg, it included the northern, western, and central parts of Kazakhstan. (12) In essence, the Soviet government simply adopted the administrative-territorial devision in the region that had existed in the Russian Empire (from 1882 to 1918)--that is, the Steppe General-Governorship (for the central, northern, and western steppe) and the Turkestan General-Governorship (for southern Kazakhstan).

The national delimitation of the Turkestan region in 1924-25 and the establishment of new union republics within the USSR created the foundation for the reunification of the southern part of Kazakhstan with the main territory of the Kazakh ASSR. (13) Furthermore, the ASSR's capital was moved from Orenburg in the southern Urals to the city of Kzylorda (previously Akmechet' and Perovsk) on the right bank of the Syr Dar'ia River. Simultaneously, the concept of "Turkestan," which Soviet authorities had previously associated with the separatist ideas of pan-Turkism, was excluded from Soviet scholarly literature and replaced by the term "Middle Asia." (14)

A distinction between the terms "Central Asia" and "Middle Asia" reappeared later in Soviet scholarly literature. The 1976 edition of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia defined "Central Asia" as the territory of the People's Republic of Mongolia and a large part of China, while "Middle Asia" was defined as the territory occupied by the Uzbek, Kirgiz, Tajik, and Turkmen SSRs. (15) Kazakhstan was not construed as a part of either of these two regions, and its position in Soviet scholarly discourse was resolved by introducing the compound concept "Middle Asia and Kazakhstan" (Sredniaia Aziia i Kazakhstan). This compound underscored the mutual connections across its two constituent parts--the northern steppe region and the southern part linked to sedentary regions--but also upheld a clear distinction between them in terms of both space and history, based on three key characteristics. The first was the nomadic economy that distinguished Kazakhstan's main population from that of its southern neighbors up until the 1930s. Second, whereas northern Kazakhstan had come under Russian influence as early as the 1730s, St. Petersburg had established protectorates over the Middle Asian khanates only some 150 years later. Third, beginning in the second half of the 19th century and in contrast to the more southern territories, Kazakhstan saw significant colonization by non-Turkic (mostly Slavic) elements. This last process continued into the Soviet period and reached its peak in the late 1950s, when Slavs--mostly Russians and Ukrainians--constituted 50.9 percent of Kazakhstan's population, while Kazakhs themselves constituted only 30 percent. (16) None of the republics of Middle Asia faced a similar situation.

Scholars in the West used the term "Central Asia" to designate what their Soviet counterparts called "Middle Asia and Kazakhstan." (17) Moreover in the 1980s, under the aegis of UNESCO, a scholarly collective produced a six-volume work titled History of Civilizations of Central Asia} (18) This compendium presented the region as a historical, cultural, and geographical space distinguished by a relative internal unity, a shared high culture, and linguistic similarities. (19)

To complicate matters further, the term "Inner Asia" appeared as well. The Russian imperial geographer I. V. Mushketov had proposed that "Inner" and "Central" Asia were not synonyms. He understood the first term to include the aggregation "of all the enclosed regions of the Asian continent from which there is no drainage to the open sea." (20) In this way he emphasized the continental nature of the region, its comparatively closed character, the absence of an outlet to the sea, the difficulties of connecting it to worldwide communication networks and thus to broader processes of modernization. It is noteworthy that in 2012 a new journal appeared in the post-Soviet space, Gumanitarnye issledovaniia Vnutrennei Azii, which includes in that region the Republic of Mongolia, the Xinjiang--Uighur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China, Inner Mongolia, Tuva, and Buriatiia, regardless of existing state borders. "Inner Asia" is construed even more broadly in literature produced outside the post-Soviet countries. (21) In 1969, the American historian Denis Sinor, in the foreword to his lexical course for students at Indiana University, defined "Inner Asia" as a synonym of "Central Eurasia," the homeland of both Altaic peoples (Mongolian, Turkic, and Manchu-Tungus) and Uralic ones (Finno-Ugrian and Samoyed). (22) He furthermore proposed that this term encompassed the Middle Asian republics of the USSR. In effect, then, Sinor was among the first to introduce the concept of "Central Eurasia" into historical scholarship.

In general, the term "Central Eurasia" has been used in recent years to emphasize that a full appreciation of the historical, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic inheritance and the historical experience of Central Asia in both the Russian Empire and the USSR requires wider study of the region in relation to Russia, China, Iran, and Afghanistan. The proponents of "Central Eurasia" consider crucial the inclusion of the Turkic-speaking regions of the Caspian Sea, the Volga-Ural region, and southern Siberia. This is because the Soviet inheritance is now gradually being erased, and new geopolitical configurations are emerging. Scholars are transferring their core research focus to the history of borderland regions--Kazakhstan and the Volga--Ural region, Central Asia, and the Caucasus--and to overcoming the barriers that separate post-Soviet national historiographies. (23)

In short, more than many areas of the world, the region including and adjacent to Kazakhstan still lacks a standardized nomenclature that would allow scholars clearly to specify the object of their study. The definition of the region in many cases depends on the questions being asked about it, which is reasonable enough. But the absence of agreement about the territorial definition of the region in question and even what to call it also represents both a symptom and a cause of the relative neglect of Kazakhstan as an object of historical inquiry.

Kazakhstan as an Object of Study: Challenges and Prospects

There are still other reasons for such neglect. One, in my view, is the fact that historical knowledge and organized structures for historical scholarship began to appear even in Kazakhstan itself only in the mid-1930s. Only then was a Historical and Archaeological Sector established at the Kazakh Institute of National Culture, where it began systematically to collect and study historical and archaeological materials on the history of Kazakhstan. Only some ten years later, in 1946, was an institute of history, language, and literature created as part of the Kazakh branch of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. In essence, professional historical scholarship in Kazakhstan did not begin until the 1930s and 1940s, when the first wave of trained historians emerged. Indeed, a specialized department focusing on the history of Kazakhstan was created only in 1958, at S. M. Kirov Kazakh State University (now Al-Farabi Kazakh National University). The founder and first chair of that department was Dr. Ermukhan Bekmakhanovich Bekmakhanov (1915-66), a Kazakh. Strictly speaking, his was the only department of Kazakh history in the entire Soviet Union, and the course of study it offered construed the history of Kazakhstan as an inalienable part of the history of the USSR--as was true of the other republics of Central Asia. It is, furthermore, revealing that in the republic's middle schools the time devoted to the history of Kazakhstan was minimal--just one hour per week-- and in some cases the topic was not even mandatory. It is also revealing that it was only some 20 years later, in 1973, that a department of Kazakh history opened in the republic's first institution of higher education--the Abai Kazakh Pedadogical Institute (founded in 1928).

The situation changed in the 1990s. Kazakhstan's independence and the beginning of socioeconomic reforms and political changes there made it imperative for historians to develop new conceptual approaches for studying the country. First, departments devoted to the specialized study of Kazakhstan's history were opened at all institutions of higher education. The history of Kazakhstan was made mandatory in all university programs of study, and the establishment of a state examination to ensure students' mastery reflected the topic's special status. In 1995, a plan to develop the historical consciousness of Kazakhstan's citizenry was implemented; it accentuated the desirability of investigating Kazakhstan's history in the broader context of world history, the history of Eurasia, and the history of nomadic civilizations, Turkic peoples, and countries of Central Asia. The public's heightened interest in the past and in the broadening of methods and modes of studying the country's history--from antiquity up to the present--shaped the preparation and publication of a new fundamental five-volume History of Kazakhstan (1996-2010), which was prepared by scholars at the Chokan Valikhanov Institute of History and Ethnology. (24) These fundamental changes in historical research manifested themselves in the marked expansion of historical topics, the posing of new historical questions, and the elaboration of new ways of answering them. One impulse for this drive was the president's Cultural Heritage program, which was designed to create a mass of new historical material from archival repositories throughout the world. (25)

This program was also designed to address another problem facing researchers interested in Kazakhstan's history: the difficulty of accessing documentary material. Historical sources pertaining to Kazakhstan in the 18th and 19th centuries are dispersed across archives in Russia, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan--that is, the cities of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Ufa, Elista, Tashkent, Askhabad, Omsk, Orenburg, Tomsk, Samara, and more. The search for such documents requires time, patience, assiduousness, and financial resources. Similarly problematic is the linguistic preparation required for work on the history of Central Asia. From the 13th century all the way down to the beginning of the 20th, a large portion of the sources for the history of the region were written in Chagatai Turkic, and a recent article by Talant Mawkanuli and Virginia Martin has shown the importance of reading original texts, as opposed to the translations by tsarist administrators. (26) Students of Central Asia accordingly require not only professional-level knowledge of the history of the region but also specialized linguistic skills. Unfortunately, historical training in the universities of Kazakhstan still does not formally include the study of such languages as Chagatai, Persian, and Arabic, which are necessary for the study of the most important sources in Central Asian history.

Ultimately, studying the history of both Kazakhstan and Central Asia requires new approaches and ways of thinking. Even today, most of the works on the region continue to reflect a set of stereotypes rooted in colonial and Soviet thinking about Central Asia. In the 19th century, that region was studied by Western and Russian authors through the prism of geostrategy--as territories implicated in the Great Game and as an important transit territory for the expansion of trade with other countries of the East (Persia, India, and China). These approaches have continued to shape research in the early 21st century. Thus Central Asia continues to be perceived as a zone crisscrossed by energy pipelines and similar conduits, and the region accordingly seems to occupy a more prominent place in contemporary world politics and economics than in history.

At the same time, certain problems in the regions history have the capacity to generate more interest among scholars, as well as new thinking and the search for new sources. One involves developing a greater appreciation for Central Asia's critical historical place in the worldwide system of trade prior to the early modern Age of Exploration. Andre Gunder Frank, one of the founders of world-systems analysis, has argued that for a long time the peoples of the region played a central role in world history. (27) It is noteworthy that this idea was first proposed by the Kazakh scholar Sanzhar Asfendiarov (1889-1938), who offered a hypothesis that until the Age of Exploration nomadic peoples exerted a profound influence on social, political, and cultural processes in Europe and Asia. (28) The transformation of nomadic Central Asia into an isolated zone is explained by this theory as a consequence of those great discoveries and the replacement of transcontinental trade from overland routes to maritime ones. This development pushed the region to the periphery of world-historical processes and strengthened the sedentary civilizations that could encircle and enclose the steppe when nomadic societies were in crisis. Going back to that earlier history could help recenter Central Asia, thereby offering a new angle from which to investigate the history of Russia and other neighboring polities.

Another possibility for new historical research would entail a comparative analysis of the social and political position of nomadic peoples in Russia--Bashkirs, Kalmyks, Kazakhs, Nogais, and so on--including their mutual interaction in the context of Russian policies toward them. There have been some efforts to engage in such comparative study--for example, in the works of the French scholar Roger-Antonin-Robert Portal and the American historians Alton Donnelly and Michael Khodarkovsky. (29) Yet their studies center on a political process that began in the 16th century and ended in the 18th century--the conversion and integration of Russia's southeastern borderland into the empire. Important issues remain beyond their purview, such as the transformation of life within those nomadic societies over the course of the 19th and early 20th centuries and the acceptance by their inhabitants of the cultural values of the empire.

New approaches would allow us to expand our gaze beyond the territory of Central Asia itself and to see a wider field of interaction among various historical actors, as well as systematic differences between policies designed for nomadic populations and those for the empire's sedentary populations. The chronological gap between starting points for the inclusion of different nomadic groups into the political system of the Russian Empire explains why certain principles of imperial policy toward nomadic societies were first tested on Bashkirs and Kalmyks, then applied in a modified form to the Kazakh steppe. The first stage saw a policy featuring both noninterference in the traditional organization of nomadic life and cooperation with the local elite. This was applied first to Bashkirs (from the mid-16th century to the 1730s), then to the Volga Kalmyks (from the mid-17th to the 18th centuries), and later to the Kazakhs of the Little and Middle Hordes (from the 1730s to the 1820s). Over the course of almost a century, the Russian government constructed relations with nomadic societies with care and calculation. The Russian administration faced greater difficulties creating a basis for cooperation with the representatives of nomadic cultures, whose way of life differed substantially from that of settled non-Russian groups, such as the Tatars, and was defined by traditions of tribal (clan) organization. In some cases, administrators were able to overcome these obstacles. For example, taking account of the specific nature of the role of elders in nomadic society, tsarist authorities created the post of chief elder (glavnyi starshina) among Bashkirs (in the mid-1730s) and Kazakhs (at the end of the 1780s). Although that post endured for only a limited time, the efforts of Russian authorities to take into account the traditional system of rule in local societies are nonetheless revealing for understanding its mode of interaction with the empire's new subjects.

Furthermore, Russian authorities implemented a single transitional form of rule, the institution of supervisors (pristavy), applying it to their nomadic subjects in places as diverse as the North Caucasus and the Kazakh steppe. Thus supervisors were appointed in Kabarda (1769), among the Kalmyks (1782), for the Nogais in the steppes to the west of the Caspian Sea (1793), for the "Karanogais and other nomadic peoples" of the North Caucasus (in the early 19th century), and--finally--for the Kazakh khan of the Little Horde Aishuak. (30) The appointment of such a supervisor, who was in the first instance to serve as a mentor or tutor to the representatives of nomadic societies' traditional authority, permitted Russian authorities to establish a permanent administrative presence in those territories while creating the conditions for the gradual integration of those regions' nomads into the Russian Empire.

Similarly interesting for the study of imperial practice is the institution of guardianship (popechitel 'stvo), introduced in the first half of the 19th century for Kalmyks, Kazakhs, and Bashkirs. This institution may be considered a transitional form of rule, given that the main goal of guardians, who were appointed from among military officers, consisted in fulfilling intermediary functions between nomads and the inhabitants of frontier lines and in gathering information on the activities of local nomadic groups. In effect, guardianship became a supplementary element of control and regimentation in the lives of the empire's nomads. (31)

The application of such forms of administration as chief elders and guardianship to Bashkirs and Kazakhs can be explained by the fact that for over a century--from the 1740s to the 1860s--both peoples were under the authority of a single administrative structure, the Orenburg General-Governorship. At the same time, the system was not introduced entirely uniformly in those territories but in response to specific geographical and historical conditions and to differing conceptions of the ideal relationship between the local population and the Russian administration. In short, here as elsewhere, the Russian Empire varied internally, using similar systems of administration in various territories and at various points in time. The initiators of similar forms of rule were often the authorities of different borderland regions, who had already observed the success of those forms in other parts of the empire. It is precisely the comparative approach that permits us to see how methods and technologies of administration circulated, with experiences acquired in one borderland transmitted to another. The larger point is that there have been few attempts to analyze these institutional arrangements systematically across different nomadic groups. Yet given the range of nomadic societies with which Russia interacted, and given the several centuries over which such interactions occurred, this actually represents a core historical problem precisely for Russian history.

Closely related to the foregoing question is a more complicated one concerning cultural communication: on what basis could two fundamentally different societies--nomadic and sedentary--meet, and to what extent were they capable of sociocultural interaction? Nomadic society's conception of power was completely distinct from that of the Russian Empire. At the same time, over the course of almost a century one can discern a process by which Kazakh society gradually adapted to changing conditions and the realization by the members of its elite that they could retain their power only by converting themselves into officials of the tsarist regime. The incorporation of representatives of nomadic society into the ranks of Russian officialdom is therefore a question of considerable interest for explaining the transformation of the Kazakh elite's thinking, aims, and habits. The role of Muslim Tatars as intermediaries is another critical aspect of intercultural communication in the steppe. Who, after all, was in the best position to effectuate the gradual and painless accommodation of nomadic society to the new political culture if not people of the same faith, ones who had acquired experience in serving the Russian Empire? Even as the existing literature has quite effectively identified the role of Tatars as intermediaries on the steppe, significant aspects of their activity continue to elude scholarly research. (32) For example, what was the nature of everyday interactions between Tatar servitors (translators, interpreters, and scribes) and the Kazakh population, and how did the latter interpret the activities of the former? Perhaps most important, Kazakhs could observe the actions of these Tatar representatives of the new authorities and see a model of sorts: an official of the same faith (Islam) and a subject of the Russian Empire who had risen up through the bureaucracy, attained a certain rank, received certain privileges alongside Russian officials, and now had the opportunity to exert influence on the population. In this way, the transformation of Kazakhs' conception of power and their adaptation to new conditions is discernible in their relations with Tatar servitors. An examination of these kinds of relationships could easily be brought into larger discussions about governance in Russia itself.


A series of factors significantly conditioned the place of Kazakhstan in Central Asia. First, our consideration of the term "Central Asia" and its variants in relation to the role of Kazakhstan in that region reveals the peculiarities of the historical development of the northern and eastern parts, which are located nearer to the Russian borders, and the southern part, which connects sooner to Middle Asian culture. These particularities in turn underscore the erroneous nature of the tendency, more characteristic of West European and North American scholarship than Russian, to regard Kazakhstan as a homogeneous region. Indeed, Kazakhstan comprises several distinct regions, and their existence raises a series of research questions about the characteristics of the peoples who reside there. Moreover, these regions allow one to perceive the distinctive role of Kazakhstan as a connector in a system of interregional cultural, economic, and trade ties involving Central Asia, Russia, and China. An understanding of the changes that have occurred on the territory of Kazakhstan over the course of centuries expands our knowledge of the history of such contemporary oblasts of Russia as Astrakhan, Orenburg, Samara, Omsk, and the states of Central Asia. Despite all these opportunities, few scholars in the humanities have created centers to study these connections and interactions, and for the time being research seems to be limited to sporadic conferences. (33) Systematic interaction among scholars of Kazakhstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, and other nearby states remains weak.

Second, Kazakhstan's regional diversity is itself a reason for its uneven study. Western and Russian historiography take a greater interest in Turkestan than they do in the steppe region of Kazakhstan. There is a paradox in the fact that even as Russia's longest land border is with Kazakhstan (7,513 kilometers), Russian history textbooks have almost nothing to say about the borderland character of that country's territory. Anatolii Remnev proposes that in terms of disciplinary nomenclature the study of Kazakhstan's history in Russia has become stuck somewhere between world (vseobshchaia) and Russian (otechestvennaia) history. No schoolchild or even university student in contemporary Russia will find much in his or her history textbooks pertaining to Kazakhs aside from a brief account of the "entry" of the Kirgiz-Kazak horde in the mid-18th century and the rare reference to Kazakhs in connection with the conquest of Central Asia. (34)

Yet because of its character as a borderland zone, the territory of Kazakhstan has seen remarkable historical developments, ones that permit a fruitful juxtaposition of historical processes unfolding in the steppe region to historically similar developments in the southern Urals, southern Siberia, the lower Volga, and southern Kazakhstan involving the acquisition of sedentary and agricultural oases, the development of irrigation and urban culture, and so on. In this regard, Kazakhstan offers an excellent foundation for the study of regional history in imperial, Soviet, and post-Soviet space.

Translated by Paul W. Werth

Almaty 050060 Kazakhstan

(1) Since both Sredniaia Aziia and Tsentral'naia Aziia are often translated into English as "Central Asia," I have distinguished between them by translating the first more literally as "Middle Asia" and the second as "Central Asia." I would like to thank Virginia Martin for clarifying certain terminological issues in the matter of translation.--Trans.

(2) The term "Central Asia" was formally adopted on 4 January 1993 at a conference of the five countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan and has become a thoroughly accepted element of scholarly discourse in the post-Soviet space.

(3) Alexander von Humboldt, Central-Asien: Untersuchungen uber die Gebirgsketten und die vergleichende Klimatologie, 2 vols. (Berlin: Klemann, 1844), trans. into Russian as A. Gumbol'd, Tsentral'naia Aziia: Issledovaniia o tseliakh gor i po sravnitel'noi klimatalogii (Moscow: I. N. Kushnerev, 1915).

(4) Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen, FiihrerfiirForschungsreisende:AnleitungzuBeobachtungen uber Gegenstande derphysischen Geographie und Geologie (Berlin: R. Oppenheim, 1886), 745.

(5) V. V. Vostrov and M. S. Mukanov, Rodoplemennyi sostav i rasselenie kazakhov, konets XIX--nachalo XXvv. (Alma-Ata: Nauka, 1968), 140-42.

(6) A. A. Levshin, a well-known scholar of the history of Kazakhstan in the first half of the 19th century, wrote that the term kirgiz-kaisatskii had been in use since the 18th century, and the expression "Kirgiz-Kazak steppe" (kirgiz-kasach 'ia step 9 was understood to constitute the space among the rivers Uil, Ural, Tobol, and Irtysh in the north; the Caspian and Aral Seas in the northwest; and the Altai Mountains and the Qing Empire in the east {Opisanie kirgizkazach 'ikh ili kirgiz-kaisatskikh ordi stepei [St. Petersburg: Karl Krai, 1832], pt. 1, 63).

(7) Peter I is quoted from "Iz zapiski A. Tevkeleva po povodu vyskazyvaniia Petra I o privlechenii kazakhov v rossiiskoe poddanstvo," Kazakhsko-russkie otnosheniia v XVI--XVIII vekakh: Sbornik dokumentov i materialov (Alma-Ata: IzdateTstvo Akademii Kazakhskoi sovetskoi sotsialisticheskoi respubliki, 1961), 31. On Middle Asia, see L. E Kostenko, Sredniaia Aziia i vodvorenie v nei russkoigrazhdanstvennosti (St. Petersburg: A. E Basunov, 1871); V. V. Grigor'ev, "Russkaia politika v otnoshenii Srednei Azii," in Sbornik gosudarstvennykh znanii, ed. V. E Bezobrazov (St. Petersburg: D. E. Kozhanchikov, 1874), 233-62; and M. A. Terent'ev, Istoriia zavoevaniia Srednei Azii (St. Petersburg: V. V. Komarov, 1906).

(8) "Kirgizskii krai," in Rossiia: Polnoe geograficheskoe opisanie nasbego otechestva, ed. V. E Semenov, 18 (St. Petersburg: A. F. Devrien, 1903), 477.

(9) Malyi entsiklopedicheskii slovar' Brokgauza i Efrona (St. Petersburg: F. A. Brokgauz & I. A. Efron, 1909), 2, pt. 4:1987.

(10) An example is I. V. Mushketov, Turkestan: Geologicheskoe i orfograficheskoe opisanie po dannym, sobrannym vo vremia puteshestvii s 1874 po 1880, 2 vols. (St. Petersburg: M. M. Stasiulevich, 1886-1906). The term "Turkestan," meaning "land of Turkic peoples," was applied in the Middle Ages to various territories depending on the migrations of Turkic peoples, and appeared in scholarly literature at the end of the 18th century. By the first half of the 19th century, this term had taken root in the scholarly milieu in the West, and it then found currency in Russian academic circles.

(11) "Turkestanskii krai," in Rossiia: Polnoe geograficheskoe opisanie (St. Petersburg: A. F. Devrien, 1913), 19:1.

(12) D. A. Amanzholova, "'Tsentrom vremenno namechaetsia Orenburg,' ili kak Orenburg stal stolitsei Kazakhskoi ASSR," Etnopanorama, nos. 3-4 (2003): 8-17; L. I. Futorianskii, "Orenburg--stolitsa Kazakhstana," Istoriia Orenburz'ia (Orenburg: Orenburgskoe knizhnoe izdatel'stvo, 1996), 231-33.

(13) In April 1925, the Fifth All-Kirgiz Congress of Soviets adopted a resolution including a call for the "reestablishment of the name Kazakhs for the Kirgiz nationality." On this basis, the name of the Kirgiz ASSR was changed to the Kazakh ASSR. See Document no. 43 in Sobranie uzakonenii i rasporiazhenii rabochego i krest 'ianskogo pravitel 'stva RSFSR (Moscow: Narodnyi komissariat iustitsii RSFSR, 1925), 321; and Rezoliutsiia 5-go Vsekazakskogo (Vsekirgizskogo) s'ezda sovetov: Organizatsionnyi otdel TsIK Kazakskoi SSR (Orenburg: Kirgosizdat, 1925), 3. The term "Kazakskaia ASSR" was deployed in the first constitution of Kazakhstan, which was formally adopted in February 1926. Ten years later, in a new constitution for the Kazakh SSR in 1937, the word "Kazak" was replaced by "Kazakh."

(14) Paradoxically, the term "Turkestan" was retained in the Soviet period to designate the region's military district (Turkestanskii voennyi okrug)--that is, not a state entity but a military-administrative one that encompassed several national republics. In the 1980s, this name applied to Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmeniia; Kazakhstan and Kirgiziia were part of the Middle Asian Military District (Sredneaziatskii voennyi okrug).

(15) Bol'shaia sovetskaia entsiklopediia (Moscow: Sovetskaia entsiklopediia, 1976), 24, pt. 1:377; ibid., 3rd ed. (Moscow: Sovetskaia entsiklopediia, 1978), 28:498.

(16) N. Masanov et al., Istoriia Kazakhstana: Narody i kul'tury (Almaty: Daik-Press, 2000), 403.

(17) E. E. Bacon, Central Asians under Russian Rule (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1966); Edward A. Allworth, Central Asia: A Century of Russian Rule (New York: Columbia University Press, 1967).

(18) The International Scientific Committee for this project included two scholars from each of the seven Central Asian countries--Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Mongolia, and the USSR--as well as five experts from other countries: Hungary, Japan, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

(19) See L. I. Miroshnikov, "A Note on the Meaning of the Term 'Central Asia' as Used in This Book," History of Civilizations of Central Asia (Paris: UNESCO Publishing, 1992), 1:470. For more on the project, see This work construed Central Asia as the territories within the borders of Afghanistan, northwestern Iran, Pakistan, northern India, western China, Kazakhstan, and the Middle Asian republics of the USSR.

(20) Mushketov, Turkestan, 1:6.

(21) Many contemporary scholarly centers in the United States include the term "Inner Asia" in their name: for example, the Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies at Indiana University and Harvard University's Committee on Inner Asian and Altaic Studies.

(22) Denis Sinor, Inner Asia: History, Civilizations, Languages. A Syllabus, 2nd ed. (London: Routledge Curzon, 1987), 5.

(23) An example is Tsentral'naia Aziia i Kavkaz, a journal that has been published since 1998.

(24) Istoriia Kazakbstana s drevneishikh vremen do nashikh dnei, 5 vols. (Almaty: Atamura, 1996-2010).

(25) From 2004 to 2011, scholars working within this program published documentary materials taken from central archives of various countries of the world in several series: The History of Kazakhstan in Russian Sources (ten volumes), The History of Kazakhstan in Chinese Sources (five volumes), The History of Kazakhstan in Arab Sources (three volumes), and The History of Kazakhstan in Persian Sources (five volumes).

(26) Talant Mawkanuli and Virginia Martin, "Nineteenth-Century Kazak Correspondence with Russian Authorities: Morphemic Analysis and Historical Contextualization," Central Eurasian Studies Review^, 1 (2009): 21-29.

(27) Andre Gunder Frank, The Centrality of Central Asia (Amsterdam: VU University Press, 1992), 52.

(28) S. D. Asfendiiarov, Istoriia Kazakhstana s drevneishikh vremen 1 (Alma-Ata: Kazkraiizdat, 1935).

(29) R. Portal, Rossiia i Bashkiria v XVII-XVIII vv., 1662-1798, trans. L. Sakhibgareva (Ufa: TsEI UNTs RAN, 2000); Alton S. Donnelly, The Russian Conquest of Bashkiria, 1552-1740: A Case Study in Imperialism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968), trans. into Russian as Zavoevanie Bashkiri Rossiei, 1552-1744 gg.: Stranitsy istorii imperializma, trans. L. R. Bikbaeva (Ufa: Bashkortostan, 1995); Michael Khodarkovsky, Russia's Steppe Frontier: The Making of a Colonial Empire, 1500-1800 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002). In this regard one may single out the research of the Soviet Bashkir scholar R. G. Kuzeev, whose work featured a wide-ranging historical and cultural approach to the analysis of ethnocultural development and tendencies of gradual rapprochement and ethnic interaction and interpenetration of the peoples of the Middle Volga and the southern Urals from the 16th to the early 20th centuries. See, e.g. R. G. Kuzeev, Narody Srednego Povolzh 'ia i Iuzhnogo Urala: Etnogeneticheskii vzgliad na istoriiu (Moscow: Nauka, 1992).

(30) On the North Caucasus, see M. S. Arsanukaeva, "Vvedenie rossiiskoi sudebno-pravovoi sistemy v gorskikh raionakh Severnogo Kavkaza v pervye desiatiletiia XIX veka," Vestnik Rossiiskoi pravovoi akademii, no. 2 (2010): 12-18.

(31) Istoriia Kazakhskoi SSR s dreveishikh vremen do nashikh dnei, 5 vols. (Alma-Ata: Nauka, 1979), vol. 3; Istoriia Bashkortostana s drevneishikb vremen do 60-kb godov XIX veka (Ufa: Kitap, 1997).

(32) See, e.g., Allen Frank, "Tatarskie mully sredi kazakhov i kirgizov v XYIII-XIX w.," in Kul'tura, iskusstvo tatarskogo naroda: Istoki, traditsii, vzaimosviazi (Kazan: IlaLI imeni Sh. Mardzhani, 1993), 125-31; Anatolii Remnev, "Tatary v kazakhskoi stepi: Soratniki i soperniki Rossiiskoi imperii," Vestnik Evrazii, no. 4 (2006): 5-32; and Gul'mira Sultangalieva, "The Russian Empire and the Intermediary Role of Tatars in Kazakhstan: The Politics of Cooperation and Rejection, From the Second Half of the Eighteenth to the Early Twentieth Century," in Asiatic Russia: Imperial Power in Regional and International Contexts, ed. Tomohiko Uyama (London: Roudedge, 2012), 52-81.

(33) See, e.g., Kazakbi Orenburzh'ia: Istoriia i sovremennost' (Orenburg: ORGPU, 2005); and Vmeste na odnoi zemle: Etnicheskaia kul 'tura kazakhov Orenburzh 'ia (Orenburg: OGAY, 2006).

(34) Anatolii Remnev, "Kolonial'nost', postkolonial'nost' i 'istoricheskaia politika' v sovremennom Kazakhstane," Ab Imperio, no. 1 (2011): 191.
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