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The Mongols, Buddhism, and the State in Late Imperial China
Although it is generally believed that the Manchus controlled the Mongols through their patronage of Tibetan Buddhism, scant attention has been paid to the Mongol view of the Qing imperial project. In contrast to other accounts of Manchu rule, Our Great Qing focuses not only on what images the metropole wished to project into Mongolia, but also on what images the Mongols acknowledged themselves. Rather than accepting the Manchu’s use of Buddhism, Johan Elverskog begins by questioning the static, unhistorical, and hegemonic view of political life implicit in the Buddhist explanation. By stressing instead the fluidity of identity and Buddhist practice as processes continually developing in relation to state formations, this work explores how Qing policies were understood by Mongols and how they came to see themselves as Qing subjects. In his investigation of Mongol society on the eve of the Manchu conquest, Elverskog reveals the distinctive political theory of decentralization that fostered the civil war among the Mongols. He explains how it was that the Manchu Great Enterprise was not to win over "Mongolia" but was instead to create a unified Mongol community of which the disparate preexisting communities would merely be component parts. A key element fostering this change was the Qing court’s promotion of Gelukpa orthodoxy, which not only transformed Mongol historical narratives and rituals but also displaced the earlier vernacular Mongolian Buddhism. Finally, Elverskog demonstrates how this eighteenth-century conception of a Mongol community, ruled by an aristocracy and nourished by a Buddhist emperor, gave way to a pan-Qing solidarity of all Buddhist peoples against Muslims and Christians and to local identities that united for the first time aristocrats with commoners in a new Mongol Buddhist identity on the eve of the twentieth century.
A Study of Sinicization, 1583-1795
Making extensive use of Chinese, Japanese, Manchu, and Western sources, the author adopts a historical multifaceted approach to explore the various forces - geography, economics, frontier contacts, political and social institutions; language, literature and art; religion and Confucianism - that made possible the Manchu adoption of Chinese ways of life.
This intensively researched urban study dissects Russian Imperial and early Soviet rule in Islamic Central Asia from the diverse viewpoints of tsarist functionaries, Soviet bureaucrats, Russian workers, and lower-class women as well as Muslim notables and Central Asian traders. Jeff Sahadeo's stimulating analysis reveals how political, social, cultural, and demographic shifts altered the nature of this colonial community from the tsarist conquest of 1865 to 1923, when Bolshevik authorities subjected the region to strict Soviet rule. In addition to placing the building of empire in Tashkent within a broader European context, Sahadeo's account makes an important contribution to understanding the cultural impact of empire on Russia's periphery.
Space, People, Power, 1700-1930
Russian Empire offers new perspectives on the strategies of imperial rule pursued by rulers, officials, scholars, and subjects of the Russian empire. An international team of scholars explores the connections between Russia's expansion over vast territories occupied by people of many ethnicities, religions, and political experiences and the evolution of imperial administration and vision. The fresh research reflected in this innovative volume reveals the ways in which the realities of sustaining imperial power in a multiethnic, multiconfessional, scattered, and diffuse environment inspired political imaginaries and set limits on what the state could accomplish. Taken together, these rich essays provide important new frameworks for understanding Russia's imperial geography of power.
Culture and Power in Kyrgyzstan
Speaking Soviet with an Accent presents the first English-language study of Soviet culture clubs in Kyrgyzstan. These clubs profoundly influenced the future of Kyrgyz cultural identity and fostered the work of many artists, such as famed novelist Chingiz Aitmatov. Based on extensive oral history and archival research, Ali Igmen follows the rise of culture clubs beginning in the 1920s, when they were established to inculcate Soviet ideology and create a sedentary lifestyle among the historically nomadic Kyrgyz people. These “Red clubs” are fondly remembered by locals as one of the few places where lively activities and socialization with other members of their ail (village or tribal unit) could be found. Through lectures, readings, books, plays, concerts, operas, visual arts, and cultural Olympiads, locals were exposed to Soviet notions of modernization. But these programs also encouraged the creation of a newfound “Kyrgyzness” that preserved aspects of local traditions and celebrated the achievements of Kyrgyz citizens in the building of a new state. These ideals proved appealing to many Kyrgyz, who, for centuries, had seen riches and power in the hands of a few tribal chieftains and Russian imperialists. This book offers new insights into the formation of modern cultural identity in Central Asia. Here, like their imperial predecessors, the Soviets sought to extend their physical borders and political influence. But Igmen also reveals the remarkable agency of the Kyrgyz people, who employed available resources to meld their own heritage with Soviet and Russian ideologies and form artistic expressions that continue to influence Kyrgyzstan today.
Unlootable Resources and Unruly Elites in Central Asia
State failure is a central challenge to international peace and security in the post-Cold War era. Yet theorizing on the causes of state failure remains surprisingly limited. In State Erosion, Lawrence P. Markowitz draws on his extensive fieldwork in two Central Asian republics—Tajikistan, where state institutions fragmented into a five-year civil war from 1992 through 1997, and Uzbekistan, which constructed one of the largest state security apparatuses in post-Soviet Eurasia—to advance a theory of state failure focused on unlootable resources, rent seeking, and unruly elites.
In Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and other countries with low capital mobility—where resources cannot be extracted, concealed, or transported to market without state intervention—local elites may control resources, but they depend on patrons to convert their resources into rents. Markowitz argues that different rent-seeking opportunities either promote the cooptation of local elites to the regime or incite competition over rents, which in turn lead to either cohesion or fragmentation. Markowitz distinguishes between weak states and failed states, challenges the assumption that state failure in a country begins at the center and radiates outward, and expands the “resource curse” argument to include cash crop economies, where mechanisms of state failure differ from those involved in fossil fuels and minerals. Broadening his argument to weak states in the Middle East (Syria and Lebanon) and Africa (Zimbabwe and Somalia), Markowitz shows how the distinct patterns of state failure in weak states with immobile capital can inform our understanding of regime change, ethnic violence, and security sector reform.
Forging a Soviet City, 1930–1966
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.
The Making of Soviet Turkmenistan
On October 27, 1991, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic declared its independence from the Soviet Union. Hammer and sickle gave way to a flag, a national anthem, and new holidays. Seven decades earlier, Turkmenistan had been a stateless conglomeration of tribes. What brought about this remarkable transformation?
Tribal Nation addresses this question by examining the Soviet effort in the 1920s and 1930s to create a modern, socialist nation in the Central Asian Republic of Turkmenistan. Adrienne Edgar argues that the recent focus on the Soviet state as a "maker of nations" overlooks another vital factor in Turkmen nationhood: the complex interaction between Soviet policies and indigenous notions of identity. In particular, the genealogical ideas that defined premodern Turkmen identity were reshaped by Soviet territorial and linguistic ideas of nationhood. The Soviet desire to construct socialist modernity in Turkmenistan conflicted with Moscow's policy of promoting nationhood, since many Turkmen viewed their "backward customs" as central to Turkmen identity.
Tribal Nation is the first book in any Western language on Soviet Turkmenistan, the first to use both archival and indigenous-language sources to analyze Soviet nation-making in Central Asia, and among the few works to examine the Soviet multinational state from a non-Russian perspective. By investigating Soviet nation-making in one of the most poorly understood regions of the Soviet Union, it also sheds light on broader questions about nationalism and colonialism in the twentieth century.
Uzbek Visions of Renewal in Osh
Morgan Y. Liu provides a rare ground-level analysis of post-Soviet Central Asia’s social and political paradoxes by focusing on an urban ethnic community: the Uzbeks in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, who have maintained visions of societal renewal throughout economic upheaval, political discrimination, and massive violence. This study examines the culturally specific ways that Osh Uzbeks are making sense of their post-Soviet dilemmas. These practices reveal deep connections with Soviet and Islamic sensibilities and with everyday acts of dwelling in urban neighborhoods. Osh Uzbeks engage the spaces of their city to shape their orientations relative to the wider world, postsocialist transformations, Islamic piety, moral personhood, and effective leadership.
For centuries, travelers have made Central Asia known to the wider world through their writings. In this volume, scholars employ these little-known texts in a wide range of Asian and European languages to trace how Central Asia was gradually absorbed into global affairs. The representations of the region brought home to China and Japan, India and Persia, Russia and Great Britain, provide valuable evidence that helps map earlier periods of globalization and cultural interaction.