Reviews

This very well-written and substantial article questions a mode of conceptualising state and nation-building in post-communist Eurasia that has uncritically accepted the model of nationalising states. The state of Uzbekistan and Uzbeks abroad challenges the validity of the ‘ethnic versus civic’ typology of nation-building: While ethnic elements have been emphasised by the Uzbekistani élites, the Uzbek nation has been primarily defined territorially. The author argues in particular that the study of how Uzbekistan relates to Uzbek co-ethnics abroad best illustrates the contradictory nature of its own nation-building process. He explains in particular how links between Uzbekistan and Uzbeks abroad have been progressively sidelined (suspicion towards the Fergana Valley Uzbeks is particularly acute) and no diaspora policy has been conceived by Uzbekistan. Among the possible factors for Uzbekistan’s reluctance to dealing with Uzbeks abroad the author mentions the priority given by the country to interstate bilateral relationships. However, he also shows that the lack of active links may be found in the views of Uzbeks abroad themselves. (Uzbeks living in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan have enjoyed limited degrees of pluralism, which does not suggest any incentive for migration to Uzbekistan.) Moreover, as suggested by other studies, the Uzbekistani government has placed emphasis on notions of territoriality and statehood and less directly on ethnicity. At the same time, concludes M. Fumagalli, homogenisation through the Uzbek language and ethnic favouritism in the job market continue to represent obstacles to the integration of ethnic minorities. In all, his study of Uzbekistan’s foreign policy and of the links between the Uzbekistani state and co-ethnics abroad convincingly shows how the Soviet territorial conception of ‘the nation’ has outlasted the Soviet state.

The Redaction
CER: II-7.4.G-675