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Ideologies vs. historiographies in Soviet and post-Soviet Central Asia

  • Zifa-Alua Auezova
Thursday 10 November 2016
Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 4
2311 BZ Leiden

Writing a history requires a proper understanding of current social values and dominant categories of public discourse, besides the subject of study itself. In 20th c. Soviet and post-Soviet Central Asia (including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan) it also required exercising vigilance in regard to constantly changing ideological attitudes to certain historical events and personalities.

The most important challenge during the Soviet period in Central Asian historiography was probably the need to change the perspective from a “local” to the Soviet one. To understand the “local” perspective, we will discuss the most significant pre-20th century historical treatises on tribes and ruling dynasties of Central Asia in the context of influences of Persian, Mongol and Turkic historiographic traditions on self-identification of the local tribes. Further, we will discuss the formation of Soviet perspectives to most significant events and personalities from Central Asian history, as well as their transformations under the pressure of changing ideology.

The disintegration of the Soviet state followed by the declaration of state sovereignty of former Soviet Republics, led to the reconstruction of intellectual legacies that were discarded in the Soviet period as “nationalistic”, “anti-popular”, “ideologically harmful”, etc. In the newly independent Central Asian states this process resulted into revisiting pre-Soviet historical narratives. We will consider the contents of post-Soviet textbooks on history, reflecting the search for the ‘right national ideology’ in the region.  

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