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Forging a Soviet City, 1930–1966

Paul Stronski

Publication Year: 2010

Paul Stronski tells the fascinating story of Tashkent, an ethnically diverse, primarily Muslim city that became the prototype for the Soviet-era reimagining of urban centers in Central Asia. Based on extensive research in Russian and Uzbek archives, Stronski shows us how Soviet officials, planners, and architects strived to integrate local ethnic traditions and socialist ideology into a newly constructed urban space and propaganda showcase. The Soviets planned to transform Tashkent from a “feudal city” of the tsarist era into a “flourishing garden,” replete with fountains, a lakeside resort, modern roadways, schools, hospitals, apartment buildings, and of course, factories. The city was intended to be a shining example to the world of the successful assimilation of a distinctly non-Russian city and its citizens through the catalyst of socialism. As Stronski reveals, the physical building of this Soviet city was not an end in itself, but rather a means to change the people and their society. Stronski analyzes how the local population of Tashkent reacted to, resisted, and eventually acquiesced to the city’s socialist transformation. He records their experiences of the Great Terror, World War II, Stalin’s death, and the developments of the Krushchev and Brezhnev eras up until the earthquake of 1966, which leveled large parts of the city. Stronski finds that the Soviets established a legitimacy that transformed Tashkent and its people into one of the more stalwart supporters of the regime through years of political and cultural changes and finally during the upheavals of glasnost.

Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press

Series: Central Eurasia in Context

Front Cover

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-xi

This study draws mostly on archival sources in Tashkent and Moscow. In Uzbekistan, I used collections of the Uzbek SSR branch of the State Planning Agency, the Uzbek Writers and Architects Unions, the Plenipotentiary of the Evacuation of the Sovnarkom of the Uzbek SSR, and other republic-level organizations from the Central State Archive of the Republic of Uzbekistan ...

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Chapter 1. Introduction

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pp. 1-15

On September 17, 1939, Pravda Vostoka declared that the construction of the Great Fergana Canal fulfilled the “centuries-long” dream of supplying the people of Central Asia with water. The Soviet government’s investment in the region, the expansion of the local transportation infrastructure, and the “voluntary” and “heroic” efforts of thousands of ordinary Uzbek Soviet citizens transformed a former Russian colony into a “flowering garden” and ...

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Chapter 2. A City to be Transformed

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pp. 16-45

In the early 1930s, European and American writers, artists, and journalists traveled across Soviet Central Asia to chronicle the tremendous economic and social transformations that were occurring in the region—from the vast campaigns to divert Central Asian rivers to the efforts to transform the landscapes of towns and cities across the region. One of these visitors, ...

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Chapter 3. Imagining a "Cultured" Tashkent

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pp. 46-71

On December 3, 1937, Pravda Vostoka profiled Mavjuda Abdurakhmanova, a young Stakhanovite, which was someone belonging to an elite category of Soviet worker who set records in fulfilling factory production quotas. An orphan, she was adopted by “progressive” Uzbek parents, who were determined ...

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Chapter 4. War and Evacuation

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pp. 72-118

World War II brought about a demographic and social catastrophe for all peoples of the Soviet Union, whether they were located near the front lines or on the home front a great distance from actual combat. After a disastrous start, the Soviet Union ultimately won the war, but its economy, land, and people were devastated. When Hitler’s armies invaded on June 22, 1941, ...

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Chapter 5. Central Asian Lives at War

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pp. 118-144

The mechanics of the Soviet state’s response to the war, from the efforts to mobilize the Tashkent population to the creation of a wartime industrial center in the Uzbek capital, are only one aspect of the wartime situation that unfolded in Soviet Central Asia. For a fuller understanding of what transpired, one must also investigate how the residents of the city—Uzbeks, ...

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Chapter 6. The Postwar Soviet City, 1945-1953

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pp. 145-172

The evacuation of defense and heavy industry transformed Tashkent into an industrial powerhouse with official markers of Soviet achievement— metallurgy, aircraft manufacturing, ammunitions production, and coal mining. During the war, Tashkent manufactured bombs but did not suffer from them. By the end of the conflict, the population bordered on close to ...

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Chapter 7. Central Asian Tashkent and the Postwar Soviet State

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pp. 173-201

In 1946, Hujum Abdullah-Khojaeva received for her tenth-grade graduation a gold medal and a bouquet of flowers from the director of her school, Ekaterina Ermolaeva.1 Pravda Vostoka celebrated her achievement at Tashkent school no. 110 as a sign that postwar Uzbekistan allowed its girls—guided by Soviet ideology and with the help of the Russian people—to gain full ...

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Chapter 8. Redesigning Tashkent After Stalin

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pp. 202-233

News of Stalin’s death on March 5, 1953, arrived in Tashkent on the following morning in brief articles in Qizil O’zbekiston and Pravda Vostoka. These newspapers devoted the remainder of that day’s issues to mundane stories of economic, industrial, and cultural affairs. However, Tashkent quickly went into mourning, with black and crimson cloth hanging from buildings ...

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Chapter 9. The Tashkent Model

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pp. 234-256

Throughout the Soviet era, Party leaders made special effort to present Tashkent as an important international center. It was a “model” Asian city and an example of how socialism could be adapted beyond its original European roots to assist “less developed” or even “backward” societies in advancing out of poverty and colonialism. City officials, academics, and Party ...

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Chapter 10. Epilogue

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pp. 247-280

It has been more than forty years since the earthquake devastated Tashkent. The city, now the capital of independent Uzbekistan, is by far the largest urban center in Central Asia; as of 2009, it had a population of 2.5 million.1 The post-earthquake reconstruction campaign of the late Soviet era sparked massive development, population increases, and continued urban ...


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pp. 281-324


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pp. 325-336


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pp. 337-350


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Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780822973898
E-ISBN-10: 0822973898
Print-ISBN-13: 9780822961130
Print-ISBN-10: 082296113X

Page Count: 368
Illustrations: 30 b&w illustrations
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Central Eurasia in Context
Series Editor Byline: Douglas Northrop, Editor See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 794700647
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Tashkent

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Subject Headings

  • Tashkent (Uzbekistan) -- History -- 20th century.
  • Tashkent (Uzbekistan) -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
  • Tashkent (Uzbekistan) -- Ethnic relations -- History -- 20th century.
  • City planning -- Soviet Union -- Case studies.
  • Social change -- Soviet Union -- Case studies.
  • Social change -- Uzbekistan -- Tashkent -- History -- 20th century.
  • Architecture -- Uzbekistan -- Tashkent -- History -- 20th century.
  • Urban renewal -- Uzbekistan -- Tashkent -- History -- 20th century.
  • City planning -- Uzbekistan -- Tashkent -- History -- 20th century.
  • City planning -- Political aspects -- Uzbekistan -- Tashkent -- History -- 20th century.
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