On the basis of unpublished documents preserved in the National Archive of the Republic of Tatarstan, in Kazan, the author reconstructs the role played by personal relations established in 1872 between Turkologist Friedrich Wilhelm Radloff and ‘alim Mulla Muhammad-Safa Bikkenin (1839-1924) in the creation by the latter, in 1878, of an indigenous Muslim Tatar school in his village of Cheremshan (present-day Apastov district of the Republic of Tatarstan). The article shows how Bikkenin, a former student in a madrasa of Kazan and a boarder of the teacher training college of Ufa, created in 1872 under Radloff’s supervision, took profit of his good relations with the latter for asking him support for the creation of a school in Cheremshan. The article is concluded by paragraphs on the continuation of Muhammad-Safa’s work in the Soviet period by his sons and daughter, and on the promotion of several of his grandchildren in the academic system of Tatarstan and of Moscow (his grandson Nail [b. 1931] was a teacher in the prestigious MGU and MGIMO). Indeed the article brings an interesting contribution on the decisive role of personal relationships between Muslim activists and figureheads of the Russian officialdom in the promotion of schooling among Tatar Muslim populations of the Volga region, during the period comprised from the early 1870s and the early 1910s. Unfortunately, very few information is given on the evolution of the teaching dispensed by Muhammad-Safa between the end of Alexander II’s reign and the launching of the NEP. In spite of its dramatic significance for social history, the question has not been raised either of the strategies elaborated by Muhammad-Safa’s children for the preservation and reinforcement of their status and role in Cheremshan through the upheavals of the Soviet period.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: II-3.2.C-174