Reviews

Basing her article on primary sources like the O’qituvchilar gazetasi [“Teachers Newspaper”] and school textbooks, the author examines the elementary history curriculum and more precisely the institutionalised Uzbek national identity, which was taught and conveyed in school teaching from WWII to the early 1960s. She first and briefly analyses the differences between traditional Central Asian and Soviet conceptions of historical time and meaning. The starkest divergence was the lack, in Eurasian conception, of emphasis on territoriality: genealogy legacy stresses the names and deeds of one’s ancestor, and Soviet historiography put its effort to redefine and divorce from sacred or dynastic histories. Then, Sh. Keller presents with more detail the difficulties of forging new Soviet and national heroes after the main trends of historiography had been reversed in the 1930s. This constitutes the most interesting points of her article: How to choose heroes? How to present them in textbooks? What kind of symbol did they figurate, and what political messages did they carry? Indeed, the author has studied the Soviet ‘historical great game’ using symbolic associations (Shiroq as a figure of loyalty to the state, on the model of Ivan Susanin, for instance) and dissociation (Timur Lang could be praised because of his military prowess and sponsorship of art, but was criticised because of his ‘despotism’). The main challenge of Soviet story line to the congruency of nation and territory concerned the invasion of Shaybani Khan, who had coincided in textbook, till 1956, with the arrival of Uzbeks in Central Asia. One other sensitive theme of ‘teaching history’ was related to Islam: The coming of Islam was taught with emphasis on the fact that Arabs were presented as ‘biologically aliens’ to Uzbeks, al-Bukhari was absent of that history, etc. The paper, dealing with the post-WWII period, defines historical matrices that still function today.

Cloé Drieu, School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences, Paris
CER: II-1.2.C-51