Reviews

Nourished by two fieldworks in Mecca and Medina, this panoramic research paper deals with the migratory processes adopted by emigrants from the Uzbek SSR in Saudi Arabia, and with the strategies that they have successively implemented for facilitating their adaptation to their new homeland.  The author first studies the collective denominations adopted successively or simultaneously by or for these migrants: from those with a local or regional content (“Farghanachi”, “Khuqandi”, “Turkistani”) to those with an open religious, pan-Islamic content (muhajir).  B. Balci then studies the sociology of immigration from Central Asia, and the way of functioning of the Turkistani mahallas in the Saudi kingdom.  The Saudi hospitality and its political postulates are also dealt with, the author however stressing the latter’s limitations (notably the forbidding of ethnic associations):  A consequence of the latter has been the gradual disappearance of the markers of the initial communal identity, and the Arabisation of younger generations.  Since the 1980s the facilitation of contacts with the muhacir communities of Turkey and with Turkish culture itself, then the independence of Uzbekistan in 1991 have produced the beginning of a cultural revival.  First encouraged simultaneously by the Uzbekistani authorities and by the World Islamic League, this revival has flown back since the late 1990s:  Nowadays Uzbekistan does not exert on this community the same fascination as did “Turkistan under the occupation of an infidel country,” which may contribute to the preservation of strong differences between Uzbek and Saudi-Uzbek identities.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-7.4.G-666