The present book is devoted to the social, political and national transformations ― the Editors prefer this term instead of ‘transition’ which reveals, to their mind, an Euro-centred viewpoint — in a long-term perspective (from early Soviet period till nowadays) and a multidisciplinary approach.
The first paper by Gero Fedtke (“How Bukharans Turned into Uzbeks and Tajiks: Soviet Nationalities Policy in the Light of Personal Rivalry,” 19-50) deals with a key issue of the nationalities policy in early Soviet times, viz. participation or the active involvement of Central Asian politicians in the course of national territorial delimitation, more especially in the Uzbek and Tajik cases, and in the formation of a national identity dissociation (Uzbek / Tajik) out of a common Bukharan root. Indeed, taking into account the political path of Fayz-Allah Khwaja (who turned Uzbek) and ‘Abd al-Qadir Muhi’l-Dinov (who turned Tajik), the author offers a very clear depiction of dissociation between Uzbek and Tajik, especially on the place of individual considerations, analysing and discussing the last publications on that subject-matter (T. Martin, F. Hirsch, among others) and taking advantage of Reinhard Eisener’s own substantial research works. The 1920s are also the subject of the article by Chiara De Santi (“Cultural Revolution and Resistance in Uzbekistan during the 1920s: New Perspectives on the Woman Question,” 51-89), who sheds light on women emancipation from a Muscovite viewpoint. After a synthesis of the existing historiography on the cultural revolution and on the women’s emancipation policy, Ch. De Santi discusses aspects of ‘resistance’ (with various levels or distinctions: active or passive, conscious or unconscious) that occurred during the hujum (in the form of assassinations, terror and violence, refusal of unveiling, etc.). The next article (Alisher Ilkhamov, “National Ideologies and Historical Mythology Construction in Post-Soviet Central Asia,” 91-119) offers an interesting and clear insight into the matter of national identity (from the viewpoint of political sciences, philosophy and history) applied to Central Asian cases (Soviet and post-Soviet).
Hereafter the volume focuses on Central Asia’s religious aspects. Habiba Fathi (“Women of Authority in Central Asian Islam as Identity Preserving References and Agents of Community Restructuring in the Post Soviet Period,” 121-60) sheds light on women’s Islam since 1991, and on the informal role of Muslim female authorities ― for appraisals of previous publications by the same author, see Central Eurasian Reader 1 (2008), reviews No. 629, 670, 671. Irène Hilgers (“Defining the ‘Uzbek Christian’: Conversion to Christianity in the Ferghana Valley,” 139-60) analyses how a numerically small community of Uzbeks who converted to Christianity after independence adjusts to everyday life in a Muslim country. Thanks to rare and precious documents, Paolo Sartori (“The Tashkent ‘Ulama’ and the Soviet State (1920-1938): A Preliminary Research Note Based on NKVD Documents,” 162-84) offers a first insight into of the history of Tashkent ‘ulama, whose members suffered the Red Terror. The author also insists on the political activity of the Mahkama-i Shar‘iyya. The two following articles deal with rural communities in Uzbekistan (in Khwarezm, especially), through the reshaping of socio-political and economic relations in the agricultural field in post-Soviet period, and through the rural population’s reactions to the authoritarian state policy (through non-compliance and informal organisation) ― Tommaso Trevisani, “Rural Communities in Transformation: Fermers, Dehqons and the State in Khorezm” (186-215); Caleb Wall, “Peasant Resistance in Khorezm?, The Difficulties of Classifying Non-Compliance in Rural Uzbekistan” (217-240).
The three last articles of the book deal with political power: Anja Schoeller-Schletter (“Structural Deficits in Legal Design and Excessive Executive Power in the Context of Transition in Uzbekistan,” 241-58) examines the functioning of governmental system in relation with local institutions; Matteo Fumagalli (“The Role of Frames in Explaining Uzbek Political Mobilisation in Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan (1991-2003),” 259-82) offers a study of the failure of ethno-political mobilisation for the Uzbeks living in southern Kyrgyzstan; Arnaud Ruffier (Rôle de la transformation des pratiques de la fête de navro’z dans la mise en scène d’un imaginaire politique en Ouzbékistan,” 283-313) discusses the place and symbolic role of Nawruz in the post-soviet Uzbek political arena. In all, this volume gathering contributions by representatives of a new generation of researchers educated in the late 1990s and early 2000s offers important and valuable reflections on various topics concerning Central Asia, in historical, sociological or political perspectives, that can inspire everyone whatever the period or the field of study.