Reviews

Though this album cannot be considered stricto sensu an academic contribution to the geography of Central Asia, the quality and subtlety of its author’s approach, added to the beauty of his photographs, make it an interesting and fruitful contribution to our global knowledge of a still very much unknown country. (Among the telling photographic documents, those who do not have the possibility to travel through Turkmenistan will notably value numerous negatives of holy graves in their present settings.) For more pedagogical clarity, the book has been divided into different chapters, devoted respectively to the history, politics, population, human rights, economy, society, and culture of Turkmenistan. A significant part of the text and photographs deal at length with the violence imposed by the state on Turkmenistan’s society. Philosopher and jurist J.-B. Jeangène-Vilmer shows particularly sensitive to the ethnic question in Turkmenistan, and to its links with the confessional issue — for instance, when he deals at length with the personal destiny of Mufti Nasr-Allah b. ‘Ibad-Allah (in charge from 1994 to 2003, jailed in 2004 for conspiracy against President Niyazov), an ulama of Uzbek origin, and of the Muftiyyat itself with its siege in Dashoguz, an Uzbek-peopled area of the country. Even if one can deplore a lack of interest in the country’s modern history, the author, though extremely cautious in his inquiry, has managed to reconstruct many essential features of the present-day society of Turkmenistan.

The Redaction
CER: II-2.4-86