Reviews

The article deals with the process of rehabilitating Central Asia’s jadid reformists in the late 1980s, with focus on Fitrat and his two dramas: True Love [Chin siwish] and The Indian Revolutionaries [Hind ikhtilalchilari] (both first published in 1920).  Fitrat was obviously preoccupied with British imperialism in Muslim-peopled areas, mostly India, besides denunciation of endemic corruption and irresponsibility of local leaders.  In his dramas, Fitrat praises the moral obligation to resist, violently and massively, tyranny and oppression and considered the anti-colonial resistance as the act of a true revolution.  The importance of self-sacrifice (“freedom or death!”) revealed also a “no surrounding” position.  Comparing these writings with Fitrat’s works Russians in Turkistan [Turkistanda Ruslar] published in 1917 and Eastern Politics [Sharq siyasati] published two year later, the discrepancy between the different discourses conveyed (despair, disillusionment, fear over Bolsheviks in one hand, Soviet alliance in the East) suggest more about the author’s talent for dissimulation.  The reality of his messages is drawn by political allegory in his dramas, which indeed have to be understood in another way:  Condemning British colonialism as one of the greatest perils to the Muslim world means condemning Russian colonial attitude in Central Asia.  The resemblance between British and Russian colonialism or the continuity of Russian / Soviet imperial attitude is also suggested by the second publication’s introduction of The Indian Revolutionaries in Germany, which praised Fitrat as an “eternal enemy of Marxism’ as their readers were advised to interpret the drama’s titles as the “Turkistani Revolutionaries”.  Another document attests of Fitrat choice for Esope’s tongue: an OGPU report (see Gatagova et als., Tsk RKB(b), BKP(b) i natsional’nyi vopros . . . [reviewed in supra 19], 586) in which Fitrat confessed that “his Indians are the Uzbeks” and that “openly, you can not say anything, but it is necessary to mask ourselves under the Soviet flag.”  For understanding Fitrat’s intention, silences also have also to be questioned:  In his Indian dramas, Socialism and the Russian revolution lack endorsement.  The author studies also the continuity with a jadid discourse that had found in novela way to convey vision of a new Central Asian social and political order.  To conclude, Sh. Lyons remarks that the rehabilitation process of former jadid writers and their “mythicisation” feed modern Uzbek nationalist discourse on resistance, but avoids the imperative of critique of Fitrat and other Bukharan reformists’ role in the disappearance of Jadidism.  Remains maybe to try to understand the reception of such works and writings in the Uzbek society of the 1920s and 1930s.

Cloé Drieu, French Institute of Central Asian Studies, Tashkent-Paris
CER: I-6.3.C-592