This paper is based on a limited set of recent studies in English language, published in the most accessible international journals and publishing house.  As such, it gives useful testimony of the once dominant Western vision of the Tajikistani conflict of the 1990s.  A simplistic historical overview is followed by a chapter on nationalism that limits oneself to a collection of stereotypes.  Instead of mechanically repeating ad nauseam the usual assertions on the absence of nationalism in Central Asia before the Soviet period (suffice to refer to autochthonous early twentieth-century reformist and modernist trends for assessing the contrary), and on the absence of nation-states in Central Asia before the Bolshevik take-over, historians of modern Tajikistan would do better to question themselves on the fact that this specific country appears as the heir of pre-modern autonomous territorial entities (Khujand, Ura-Teppa in the north; Hisar and Qarategin in the centre; Kulab and Badakhshan in the south).  Instead of continuing to introduce the Basmachi movement as a “supra-ethnic loose alliance” which “advocated pan-Islamism (42, 43),” one should perhaps begin to deal with the specific role played in Eastern Bukhara by Laqay Uzbeks—a community that was ostracised during the whole Soviet period, and remains such till nowadays, for the leading and decisive role it played in the lasting resistance to the Red Army during the 1920s, and for its alleged durable tendency towards politicisation of Islam.  The reader will be interested in acute, though not original notations on the proximity between the Tajik and Uzbek ethnicity; on the role played by local hostility towards well-off migrants from Gharm in the Qurghan-Teppa area at the beginning of the civil war of the 1992-97; on the impact of the war in Afghanistan on Tajikistan’s direct exposure to violence since the early 1980s; on the continual increase of the rural population, without a corresponding high rate of rural-urban migration, bringing about a drop in rural standards on living and an increase in competition over natural resource.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-7.4.E-644