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  • Print publication year: 2017
  • Online publication date: September 2017

25 - Communism on the Frontier: The Sovietization of Central Asia and Mongolia

from Part II - Patterns and Extensions

The literature on Central Asia and Mongolia was transformed by the collapse of the Soviet Union, which allowed historians to ask new questions and to answer them on the basis of unprecedented access to the archives. Nevertheless, the historiography remains thin and spotty, with large areas still awaiting monographic treatment. For developments in Central Asia in the late tsarist period, see Khalid, Adeeb, The Politics of Muslim Cultural Reform: Jadidism in Central Asia (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), and Brower, Daniel, Turkestan and the Fate of the Russian Empire (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003). Also useful is Sabol, Steven, Russian Colonization and the Genesis of Kazak National Consciousness (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003). Sahadeo, Jeff, Russian Colonial Society in Tashkent, 1865–1923 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007), provides an excellent account of settler society and covers the era of the revolution. The complex politics of the revolution in Turkestan are explored by Buttino, Marco, La rivoluzione capovolta. L’Asia centrale tra il crollo dell’impero zarista e la formazione dell’URSS (Naples: L’Ancora del Mediterraneo, 2003), and Agzamkhodzhaev, Saidakbar, Istoriia Turkestanskoi avtonomii: Turkiston muxtoryiati (Tashkent: Toshkent Islom universteti, 2006).

For the early Soviet period, Khalid, Adeeb, Making Uzbekistan: Nation, Empire, and Revolution in the Early USSR (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2015), provides the most comprehensive account of events in Turkestan and Bukhara in 1917 and the decade and a half that followed it. Kamp, Marianne, The New Woman in Uzbekistan: Islam, Modernity, and Unveiling under Communism (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2006), and Northrop, Douglas, Veiled Empire: Gender and Power in Stalinist Central Asia (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004), offer contrasting takes on the hujum. On Kazakhstan, Pianciola, Niccolò, Stalinismo di frontiera. Colonizzazione agricola, stermino dei nomadi e costruzione statale in Asia centrale (1905–1936) (Rome: Viella, 2009) provides a sweeping account that spans the revolution. The political history of the revolutionary era is recounted by Amanzholova, D., Na izlome: Alash v etnopoliticheskoi istorii Kazakhstana (Almaty: Taymas, 2009). There is still very little on the 1920s in Kazakhstan, but two excellent monographs offer detailed accounts of collectivization and sedentarization: Ohayon, Isabelle, Le sédentarisation des Kazakhs dans l’URSS de Staline. Collectivisation et changement social (1928–1945) (Paris: Maisonneuve & Larose, 2006), and Cameron, Sarah, The Hungry Steppe: Famine, Violence and the Making of Soviet Kazakhstan (forthcoming). Excellent studies exist on the other republics in the early Soviet period. See Edgar, Adrienne, Tribal Nation: The Making of Soviet Turkmenistan (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004); İğmen, Ali, Speaking Soviet with an Accent: Culture and Power in Kyrgyzstan (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012); and Loring, Benjamin, “Building Socialism in Kyrgyzstan: Nation-Making, Rural Development, and Social Change, 1921–1932” (unpublished thesis, Brandeis University, 2008).

The foundational texts for the study of Soviet nationalities policies are Slezkine, Yuri, “The USSR as a Communal Apartment, or How a Socialist State Promoted Ethnic Particularism,” Slavic Review 53, 2 (1994), 414–52; Martin, Terry, The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923–1939 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001); and Hirsch, Francine, Empire of Nations: Ethnographic Knowledge and the Making of the Soviet Union (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005). For the national-territorial delimitation of Central Asia, Haugen, Arne’s The Establishment of National Republics in Soviet Central Asia (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003) is indispensable. There is no adequate treatment of Soviet attempts at “revolutionizing the East,” but the relevant sections of Roy, M. N.’s Memoirs (Bombay: Allied Publishers, 1964) offer fascinating insights.

Mongolia has not shared in the post-Soviet archival bonanza and the output on the years of the establishment of communism is quite thin. See Kaplonski, Christopher, The Lama Question: Violence, Sovereignty, and Exception in Early Socialist Mongolia (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2014). Also useful is Morozova, Irina Y., The Comintern and Revolution in Mongolia (Cambridge: White Horse Press, 2002). The best source on the Baron Ungern episode is Sunderland, Willard’s The Baron’s Cloak: A History of the Russian Empire in War and Revolution (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2014).