Reviews

This book is the English translation of the classical Relikty domusulmanskikh verovanii i obriadov u usbekov Khorezma (Moscow, 1969) by G. P. Snesarev. Such translations help to facilitate the access of readers to Soviet publications; moreover, they allow us to reassess the legacy of Soviet ethnography of Central Asian Islam. As is well known, scholars like Snesarev, Sukhareva, Troitskaia or Basilov have analysed most features of Islam in Uzbekistan or Kazakhstan in terms of pre-Islamic survivals. They were not the only ones to do so in the world of Islam. French colonial ethnographers in Northern Africa, for instance, have systematically emphasised the “coutumes et traditions pré-islamiques.” One and the others were in constant “dialogue” with the religious anthropology of J.G. Frazer. From this respect, Snesarev’s book illustrates the Soviet use of Frazer’s works. Interesting as well is the fact that, in the pure tradition of Soviet ethnography, the essay describes many rituals and practices which still existed (or, at least, were still orally recorded) in the first half of the twentieth century and have disappeared in the course of Sovietisation and post-modernity. It is unfortunate that the translator did not provide any introduction or update references in footnotes.

Alexandre Papas, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: II-4.3.D-417