The article relies on fieldworks implemented in 2000 and 2001 in three regions of Uzbekistan: the Surkhan Darya, the Fergana, and Samarqand.  It underlines the major role plaid by piedmont areas in Uzbek agrarian history till the 1960s.  Agro-pastoral production systems had been developed on complementary territories: grazing areas (mountains and low steppes) and irrigation areas (piedmonts) around settlements.  However piedmonts were abandoned by the Soviet state in favour of the development of the cotton-oriented agriculture in newly irrigated areas.  As a result, they have been marginalised and deserted by the emigration of workers to cotton producing territories.  During the ‘transition period’ piedmont areas have followed various development trajectories:  Some have become even more marginalised, whereas some have been recently developed by farmers escaping from state-controlled agriculture, or excluded by the de-collectivisation process—a phenomenon interpreted by some as a revival of the traditional system.  Though the object tackled is interesting, and rarely raised by scholarship, the arguments used do not consolidate the statement.  Short of quantitative data, the article does not estimate the expansion of the dynamics.  It overlooks the militarisation of the international boundaries and the resulting inability of Uzbek cattle to graze Kyrgyz and Tajik mountainous areas, contrary to the Soviet period. Landlockedness dramatically restrains the development of Uzbek piedmonts.

Raphaël Jozan, National School of Civil Engineering, Paris
CER: I-2.4-134