Reviews

On the basis of ethnographic fieldwork implemented between 1996 and 1998, the author studies how Crimean Tatars, though leaving Central Asia at a dramatic rate since the early 1990s, express both ambivalence and affection with regard to life in this region (in Uzbekistan in particular) to which they massively relocated from various places from the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s.  Greta Lynn Uehling notably shows how the voices of the deceased are recruited and serve in a general way as a structuring device organising the Tatars’ narrative means of expression:  “By eliciting respect and moral authority, the deceased provide certainty where there is ambiguity and bolster the Tatars’ stance in a whole number of discursive terrains (p. 392).”  Through a number of telling cases, the author casts light on the essentially random interpretations of the trespassed’ supposed thinking, especially when contradictory interpretations might equally be drawn.  Contrary to what many of the Tatars who relocated to the Crimea suggest, the Tatars in Uzbekistan have remained there not out of a dearth of patriotism, but out of an inability, in the context of dramatic transition in state structures, to navigate new bureaucratic regulations, customs and border regulations.  The economic changes that accompanied the break-up of the Soviet Union also played an important role in Crimean Tatars’ ability to repatriate:  One barrier has been the lack of liquidity or real estate (the sudden emigration of many non-Uzbek ethnic groups flooded the real estate market and depressed prices).  Moreover, Professional Crimean Tatars faced almost certain unemployment in Ukraine and hesitated to give up positions that they had worked hard to obtain; they postponed migration with the view of waiting until the Crimean economy can support them in their profession.  In many ways, deceased ancestors figure prominently in decision making about repatriation and are capable of tipping the balance either way.  The dead, or their imputed voices at least, offer reassurance to the living, thereby stabilising Crimean Tatars’ diasporic presence in the CIS—“the Crimean Tatars simultaneously paying homage to ancestors and making sense of themselves.”

The Redaction
CER: I-7.4.G-682