This short but dense article advances very highlighting interrogations on the issue of ethno-nationalism in Central Asia. Its aim is to reply to Barfield’s suggestion that the durable multiethnic state structure characteristic of Central Eurasian societies explains in part the difference between the ethno-nationalist fervour in the Balkans and the persistence of a multiethnic Afghanistan. Thanks to Foucauld’s definition of race as a community with a common history and a common suffering vis-à-vis the state or other oppressive power structure, the author uses the idea of “biopower” for reading twentieth-century Central Asian history: Both ethno-nationalism and socialism seek to appropriate state power for the furthering of purportedly objective group interests. According to the author, there is no popular Central Asian discourse legitimating an ethnically or racially defined community’s action against that state; and the memory of the multiethnic character of these dynastic states threatens any particular ethno-nationalist project.
Marlène Laruelle, John Hopkins University, Washington, DC