Reviews

The author focuses on the different efforts made in colonial Turkistan to reconstruct the past and to form a new historical memory as the cement of a new collective identity.  For the Russian Empire, Turkistan was more than a simple colony because it had to be an “advanced colonial community [. . .] integrating the colonised population peacefully in the European civilisation.”  The construction of this past was based upon two main figures: on the one hand “the founder of Turkistan” and first governor-general Konstantin P. von Kaufman (1818-1882) and, on the other hand “the Lion of Tashkent”, the conqueror of Turkistan Mikhail G. Cherniaev (1828-1898).  They represented two aspects of Russian imperialism: a more liberal and progressive stance (Kaufman) and an essentially coercive one (Cherniaev).  The article describes the legacy of Kaufman and the image of “civilisation” associated with him on the occasions of his posthumous jubilees, and in the framework of scholarly societies for the study of Turkistan.  Gradually, however, Chernaiev’s memory gained momentum with the growth of vernacular opposition to imperial rule.  The exile of Grand Prince Nikolai Konstantinovich also contributed to his posthumous promotion as an embodiment of “authority and order” as well as a symbol of pan-Slavic identity with a strong Christian component.  The vernacular perceptions of the two figures of Russian conquest and colonisation are mentioned through the opinion officially expressed by two judges of the shari‘a, Muhi al-Din Khwaja and Sattar Khan praising Kaufman for bringing peace to a chaotic region.  The article usefully sheds light on a symbolic conflict among the Russian elites of Tashkent on the formation of a new collective identity.  If the author considers that this opposition between “civilisation” and “order” failed to unite the official vision of Russia’s presence in Central Asia, it also reveals a durable dualism that still prevailed in the first decades of the Soviet period.

Cloé Drieu, French Institute of Central Asian Studies,  Tashkent – Paris
CER: I-3.4.C-308