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2 JADIDS AND THE REFORM OF WOMEN In the early twentieth century , a few Jadid reformers in Central Asia opened modern school programs for girls, and many discussed the necessity of “reforming” women to become better partners for men in the project of remaking their society . Their discussions of women’s reform drew on ideas that circulated in the larger Islamic world, and especially among Tatars in Russia. I argue that the concepts they focused on became the base for Uzbek ideas about “women’s liberation” in the early years of the Soviet experiment. By this I mean that although the Communist Party Women’s Division would do its best to spread the Party’s views on male-female equality and women’s roles in the socialist state, the ideas for changing women’s roles that most profoundly shaped Uzbek activists, whether male or female, expressed continuity with Jadid thought far more than a deep reflection of Bolshevik agendas. Before the revolution brought Communist Party ideas about transforming women, there was already a lively discussion about educating and reforming Muslim women in Central Asia. No one who wrote about Uzbek women before the revolution was satisfied with them as they were. Central Asian Jadid men wrote that women’s lack of education kept the nation from improving itself. Russians saw Uzbek women’s ignorance as emblematic of Central Asian backwardness. Central Asian religious w w scholars saw women as devoted to superstition rather than to right practices . To Tatars, Uzbek women seemed deprived of normal life. Bolsheviks began promoting unveiling in 1927, thinking of it as a method for shaking up Uzbek society and winning Uzbek women to the Soviet government’s side.1 They were latecomers; Jadids began discussing unveiling around 1910 (see chapter 6). But in Jadid thought, the most important way that women could be changed, and thus bring change to all of Turkestani society, was through modern education. As a few Central Asian women became associated with the Jadid movement, they too championed teaching girls to read and write in their native language , believing that educated mothers could contribute to a Turkestani cultural revival. Many of the Communist Party’s Uzbek members had been associated with the Jadid movement. Adeeb Khalid notes that Jadid failures to influence Central Asian society “brought home to them the importance of the state as an agent of change.”2 Before the revolution, they wanted to bring about change in marriage and family life, in the training of girls, and in the roles women would play in society, all in the name of becoming jadid, meaning new, or modern. After the revolution, they joined the Party with the understanding that it would empower them to carry out reform, and they brought into the Party their own ideas about the significance of transforming women. Muslims of Russia who discussed ideas of freedom, rights, progress, and reform in the colonial period have often been referred to as Westernizers or Russifiers, with the implication that their impetus toward change came from their contact with Europe and Russia. However, Khalid argues convincingly that, while the Jadid reformers of Turkestan promoted the study of Russian, most of them owed their intellectual formation to their travels in the Islamic world and to reading Arabic, Persian, and Turkish books, including translations of European works. Their reformist ideas were connected to emerging discourses in the larger Islamic world.3 The people of Turkestan responded to Russian colonial rule not as a single body united by common identity and goals, but rather—as in much of the rest of the colonized world—with widely opposing analyses of the problem and the solution. There are broad parallels in the structure of responses to colonialism throughout the world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; as Partha Chatterjee suggests, discourses of reform and of preservation, of modernization and of authenticity, all turned attention to women.4 jadids and the reform of women 33 Ideas for reforming women were directly linked to discourses about restoring the millat (nation), a concept itself undergoing change in early twentieth-century Turkestan. In the nineteenth century, the meaning of millat had expanded from a legal denotation for a minority religious community to encompass ideas of ethnic group, majority religious group, and nation. In Russia, when Muslims wrote about “our millat,” they referred to a religiously defined community and increasingly an ethnolinguistically defined community, a nation that was not a...


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