Reviews

The eight references to works by President Rahmonov, at the beginning of a long bibliography of publications in Russian and Tajik languages, unfortunately give a tint of the volume’s overall content.  The short foreword on the historiography of the Tajiks, limited to works published in the former Russian and Soviet domain, provides a bibliographical material centred on the late colonial period and on the first years of Tajikistan’s independence.  An introductory chapter quickly and superficially deals with varied, sometimes overlapping categories of remote ancestors of the Tajiks’— historical Hephtalites neighbouring with more legendary Turanians—, all introduced as impeccable Persian-speaking Aryans.  As to the historical fatherland of the Tajiks, it is extended from Eastern Europe to the middle course of the great Siberian rivers.  The following chapters summarises the history of Persian-speaking states from ancient times to the present, with predictable considerations on the formation of modern Persian language in Khurasan and Transoxiana, and on the ethno-genesis of the Tajiks during the Samanid period.

The interesting material must be found in the third part of the book, devoted to the modern and contemporary period, with a special attention to the settlement or emigration of Tajiks outside the former Tajik SSR—in the CIS, with interesting, although quite impressionistic paragraphs on refugee populations of the civil war period, from Turkmenistan to Siberia; in China, with some data on the Pamirian populations of the Tashqurghan area; in the Middle-East, with romantic evocations of the “Tajik” part of Iran (i.e., no less than the Eastern third part of this country’s territory); last and least in Western Europe, through the history of Persian studies in different countries, through the presence in these countries of Persian-speaking communities and intellectual figures, and through the development of diplomatic relations between Tajikistan and Western Europe.

In short, the book can be inscribed in a post-Soviet tradition of apologetic publication, the model of which has been provided by Volga Tatars already in the early 1990s with yearly congresses of the “Tatars of the world.”  Beside overall unimaginative considerations deeply influenced by national historiography as it has developed (or regressed) in Dushanbe since the late Soviet period, the book provides occasionally interesting factual information, sometimes at the level of micro-history of present time (e.g., on the personal itinerary of families of Tajikistani refugees in Turkmenistan in the 1990s), that would have been easier to localise through an index—the lack of which is very much to be deplored. (First edition: Dushanbe: “Devashtich”, 2004.)

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-3.4.A-250