This textbook presents a vast array of factual information about the administration, economy and culture of Aktiubinsk region in the last fifty years of the Russian imperial period. The author follows imperial administrative boundaries in defining this region, which comprised the uezd of Aktiube in the nineteenth century (within Turgai oblast’) but the oblast’ of Aktiube today. It is a regional history that purports to go beyond kraevedenie and offer the results of “professional research,” the stated difference between them being that the former asks of its information “how was it,” while the latter asks “why was it and what came out of this.” There is no discussion of methodology beyond this statement, and the book is simply a string of facts, with very little analysis.
The author clearly spent long hours compiling information, and the reader will be rewarded with valuable facts about the administrative structure of this territory and who staffed them, the types of schools constructed and who taught in them, the development of agriculture, veterinary services, trade and a host of other details. Appendices present names of Kazakh administrators and registered mullahs in the uezd, names of teachers in the large variety of schools opened in this time period, names of pupils who enrolled in them along with their parents, etc. A large number of archival documents detailing administrative and social-cultural reforms are reproduced. All of this information is carefully referenced to its source (most comes from the Central State Archive of the Republic of Kazakhstan, fond 25, but also from archives in Orenburg and St. Petersburg, contemporary regional newspapers and journals, and a few published sources).
Gul’mira Sultangalieva has written extensively since this book was published in 2005. Indeed, as Uyama Tomohiko wrote in his article “Historiography of Local and Regional Studies in Western Kazakhstan: An Alternative to National History?” (Central Eurasian Studies Review 7/2: 16-22), Sultangalieva’s work, in her position on the faculty of Aktiube State Pedagogical Institute, is representative of the phenomenon in Kazakhstani historiography of not only the more narrowly focused regional history, but also the history of “trans-boundary issues” in Western Kazakhstan (e.g., religious and trade roles of Tatars among the Kazakhs) that puts the Kazakh steppe into a much larger analytical framework. In the study of pre-revolutionary Aktiubinsk uezd reviewed here, we come away with the profound sense of the influence of Russian imperial structures in this region, as well as the lure of Russian culture, schools, economic opportunities, etc., but other external influences are not investigated.