Reviews

Taking up the materials of papers published since the early 1960s in various academic journals (in Narody Azii i Afriki and Vostok as far as Moscow is concerned, and in Kazakhstan’s Iuridichaskaia gazeta—see my reviews of the most recent of these papers in Abstracta Iranica, reprint in S. A. Dudoignon & Hisao Komatsu, eds., Research Trends in Modern Central Eurasian Studies (18th-20th Centuries), 2, A Selective and Critical Bibliography of Works Published between 1985 and 2000, Tokyo: The Toyo Bunko, 2006, 21-2—, the authors provide a series of materials on the repression of figures of Turkic studies in the USSR during the second half of the 1930s.  The volume is opened by the publication of sets of documents related with the proceedings undertaken by the Soviet power against, respectively, A. N. Samoilovich and E. D. Polivanov.  It continues with chapters on the repression of Turkic nationalist intellectuals, writers and researchers in the Azerbaijani, Kazakh, and Kyrgyz SSRs.  Taking advantage of the access that they have been granted to the archive of the Ministry of the National Security of Azerbaijan, the authors draw an acute picture of the political situation in Baku in the 1920s-1930s, through the personal destiny, solidarities and—sometimes mutual—oppositions of leading polygraphs and academics (among others Akhundov, Choban-Zade, Gubaidullin, Khodzhaev—through unpublished family archive as far as the latter is concerned).  The Kazakh SSR is dealt with through an evocation of the successive waves of repression against former members of the “Alash” party and nationalistic-oriented communists, on the basis of a limited set of documents studied by F. D. Ashnin in 1997 during a short research in the archive of the former KGB in Alma-Ata.  However, the dozen of pages (234-45) devoted to the fate of historians, linguists, and critics underscore the wide typology of repressed figures, and their complex mutual relations (as demonstrated by the simultaneous execution, in February 1938, of the differently backgrounded and mutually hostile Asfendiarov, Togzhanov and Kabulov).  About the Kirghiz SSR (created in 1935), the authors have concentrated on a group of prominent figures documented by the archive of the Ministry of National Security of Kyrgyzstan—especially on the “Social-Turanian Party,” from its alleged creation in 1929 until the physical elimination of the “Sydykov’s Thirty” from 1934 onwards: an interesting example, according to a majority of present-day Kyrgyz historians, and to the authors, of the fabrication of group proceedings by OGPU local officers.  The authors have also isolated a group of “the lucky ones” who, although closely linked with repressed figures, found their place in the apparatus of the Kyrgyz SSR in the decades following the ‘Red Terror’.  As well as the previous publications of the same authors, the book demonstrates the fertility of micro-history and prosopography when they are implemented in the study of the Central Eurasian political elites of the early Soviet period—a significant aspect of which is made of the complex relations between leading figures of Russian human and social sciences and their vernacular counterparts (see for instance the case of E. D. Polivanov and Aaly Tokombaev in Frunze/Bishkek).

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-1.2.A-26