Reviews

The author who conducted a survey and a focus group study on non-titular minorities in Tashkent, Uzbekistan (2002, 2003), has arrived at conclusions that go against academic mainstream (the Russian one, in the least) on the motivations of out-migration of Russian-speakers from the so-called nationalising states. According to him, scholars have overemphasised the effect of ethno-political factors on Russian-speakers’ migration and on their life experiences in the post-Soviet states in general. These factors are important, but “they can only be understood in the context of the overall deterioration of the economy and governance occurring since independence. [. . .] Scholars should re-evaluate the emphasis placed on ethnic conflict and tensions in Central Asia and recognise the interactive effects of political and economic factors, which profoundly impact not only the lives of minorities, but of all citizens in the region (p. 654).” The author has also drawn attention to a fact that Russian-speakers often feel like belonging to their country of residence (Uzbekistan in the case under study), taking it as their true motherland whereas Russia is treated, mildly speaking, ambivalently.

The list of the author’s innovations could be further extended. Given the paucity of publications based on field-materials collected in post-Soviet Central Asia in general, and in Uzbekistan in particular, this article might be highly recommended to everybody interested in post-Soviet transformations in the area, and in their impact on the people’s everyday life. However, the reviewer would also like to express the regret that all these ideas appeared in 2006, not seven or eight years earlier, at a time when others including self were fighting with the heavily ethnicised and politicised vision of the situation of Russian-speakers that then used to prevail among Russian academics. This article is also another manifestation of the sorrowful fact that Russian and Western scholars work, in some sense, in parallel worlds: During the reviewer’s own extensive field-work in Kyrgyzstan in the 1990s and early 2000s, she had arrived to similar conclusions and published her results both in Russian and in English.

Natalya Kosmarskaya, Institute of Oriental Studies, Moscow
CER: II-6.4.G-545