Reviews

This article introduces for the first time the full translation from Uzbek language of an article written in June 1917 by famous historian of the Turkic world Ahmad-Zaki Walidi (1890-1970). In a highly politicised text published in his journal Yurt, Walidi exposes his views and his main purpose, viz. the “preservation of their spiritual wealth,” as well as the cultural rebirth and the political unification of the “Turkic peoples of the Russian Empire.” In the name of progress, Walidi supports the idea that a political union of Turkic peoples would allow national cultural autonomy. Addressing Turkestan’s élites and noticing the strong influence of Arabic and Iranian cultures on the Turks of this part of the world, he explains with historical arguments that they have to “found their cultural roots and their political strength in the Kyrgyz steppes and not in the Iranicised cities (p. 193).” The style of Walidi’s writing reveals a lot and especially a scientist vision. He rises up against the fatalistic idea that it is impossible to develop agriculture in some regions of Turkistan by referring to the last technical discoveries in hydro-geology. Among other more classical statements, Walidi insists on the monopoly of capital resources in the hands of Russians and strangers. According to him, Muslim entrepreneurs have to finance education to reinforce the modernisation movement initiated by Gasprinskii. Criticising the fact that half of the Turkic populations of Turkestan cities talk Persian language, he also encourages Russian scholars to study the languages and history of Turkic peoples.

Xavier Le Torrivellec, French-Russian Centre for Human & Social Sciences, Moscow
CER: II-1.2.B-44