Reviews

This imposing doctoral dissertation brings together materials that the author—a Sakar Turkmen native of the left bank of the Amu-Darya, educated at the Turkmen State University in the 1980s—has been gathering and investigating during a period which spans over twenty years.  Unlike what the title suggests, the present study deals solely with Sakar Turkmens.  The work is divided in six chapters of unequal weight.  The first chapter aims at tracing back the history of the Sakar to the Alkïrevli and Karaevli.  The bulk of the work, concentrated in chapter two (pp. 155-594), is based on inquiries in ethno-history and on information collected on the field from elderly informants, and cross-checked with written sources, particularly previous ethnic surveys.  This is a typical Soviet but still very well-informed research in ethnic history.  It is very close in form and content, if not in motivation, to the study that Vinnikov carried out in the very same region in the late 1950s (Rodoplemennoi i etnicheskii sostav naseleniia Chardzhouskoi oblasti Turkmenskoi SSR i ego rasselenie [Tribal and Ethnic Composition and Distribution of the Population of the Charjou Region of the Turkmen SSR], Ashgabat, 1962).  It provides data on the genealogical distribution of the each patrilineage within the Sakar, along with historical legends and living memories of the past associated with each of them.  Chapter three, based on secondary sources, is devoted to the relationship between the Sakar and the Russian colonial power.  Chapter four provides demographical data.  Chapter five and six present a sketch of the material culture and modes of subsistence, based on first hand observations.  It is striking how, whatever may be the authors’ actual motivations, ethnic surveys and ethnographies of so-called tribal groups do not fail to appear as initiatives aiming at administrating land and people.

François Ömer Akakça, Humboldt University, Berlin
CER: I-7.4.F-658