Reviews

Unfortunately deprived of a critical apparatus worthy of the denomination, this innovative, if not iconoclastic article assesses the essentially deleterious influence of oil extraction and industry in the Northern Caucasus on almost two centuries of Chechen and Ingush history. The author notably casts a crude light on the upheavals imposed to Chechen society in the wake of oil extraction, through concentration of manpower in the lowlands, and through the replacement of traditional religious and sub-ethnic divisions by bigger social groups. She evokes the successive impact of the monopolistic state capitalism of the Tsarist period and of the state property of the Soviet era upon the lasting sentiment of socioeconomic deprivation among vernacular populations. Separate paragraphs are devoted to the emergence of the ‘new Chechen élite’ out of the Komsomol at the end of the Soviet period, and its inner division through struggle for control of insufficient oil reserves. The author tackles in particular the impact of this division on the intensification of sub-ethnic fragmentation, and on the rapid ‘easternification’ of a modernised society. If Galina Khizrieva’s vision of the role of traditional Sufi paths as an agent of reconciliation in present-day Chechen society can be considered excessively romantic, the global historical interpretation that she proposes in this short but substantial reflection is one of the most convincing attempts at a global assessment of economic factors in the current conflicts of the Northern Caucasus.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: II-4.3.C-388