This synthetic, but astute and very sensitive study, by an excellent connoisseur of Tajikistani society, stresses the outer influences that have determined the content and orientation of the late 1980-s and early 1990s-s Tajik national movement: (1) the Soviet political and administrative categories of the 1930s; (2) the ethnic identities that have been ‘sanctioned’ by Soviet scientific (especially linguistic and ethnographical) research since that period; (3) contacts with the national movements in the Baltic states in the 1980s; (4) the model of the Iranian revolution of 1979 and the relatively limited role played during a short period by the Iranian Embassy in Dushanbe; (5) the more decisive war in Afghanistan, during which many Tajik interpreters and translators served in Afghan territory:  Their return opened a debate about the nature of the Tajik language, and led to the proclamation of Tajik as the official language of the Republic in 1989.  The author takes notice of the essentially “trans-national” character of this measure, and of numerous Tajikistani festivities of the early 1990s—many of which stress the antiquity and strength of cultural links with Iran and Afghanistan, even since the end of the civil war.  Assessing the key question of the struggle for increased regional or sub-national autonomy (mentioning in passing the interesting case of the Turkic-speaking Laqays), and the regions’ strove for cultural revival, the author stresses that the demands for independence, instead of being commonly seen as expressions of the ‘clan’ structure of Tajik society, ought rather to be analysed as a protest voice when one’s influence over the central power has reached the bottom end.  “Such demands paradoxically aimed at enhancing the status of one’s solidarity network as an actor on Tajikistan’s political arena, not outside it (409).”

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-7.4.E-657