Review: “A History of the Tajiks: Iranians of the East” – Richard Foltz

Tajikistan is a country I am very interested in; I own and have read many books about Tajikistan. If I can save enough money, I plan to drive the Pamir Highway from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, to Dushanbe, Tajikistan, in a year or two, subject to COVID restrictions. I didn’t have very high expectations when I began reading Richard Foltz’s “A History of the Tajiks: Iranians of … Continue reading Review: “A History of the Tajiks: Iranians of the East” – Richard Foltz

Review: “Soviet Nationalities Policy and Bourgeois Historians: The Formation of the Soviet Multinational State (1917-1922) in Contemporary American Historiography” – L. Zenushkina

When I first started reading L. Zenushkina’s “Soviet Nationalities Policy and Bourgeois Historians: The Formation of the Soviet Multinational State (1917-1922) in Contemporary American Historiography,” I must admit I didn’t have very high expectations. True, Soviet nationalities policy is an area I specialize in, but since I have already read multiple books published in the USSR about this subject, such as “The October Revolution and … Continue reading Review: “Soviet Nationalities Policy and Bourgeois Historians: The Formation of the Soviet Multinational State (1917-1922) in Contemporary American Historiography” – L. Zenushkina

Review: “Tajikistan: A Political and Social History” – Kirill Nourzhanov and Christian Bleuer

Kirill Nourzhanov and Christian Bleuer’s “Tajikistan: A Political and Social History” offers the most comprehensive analysis of the history of Tajikistan that I have ever read. The main purpose of the book is to understand the causes of the Tajik Civil War (1992-97), one of the deadliest conflicts in the former USSR. More specifically, Nourzhanov and Bleuer are interested in why Tajikistan experienced near total … Continue reading Review: “Tajikistan: A Political and Social History” – Kirill Nourzhanov and Christian Bleuer

Review: “The Establishment of National Republics in Soviet Central Asia” – Arne Haugen

“The Establishment of National Republics in Soviet Central Asia” by Arne Haugen is the Das Kapital of Soviet nationalities policies, especially in Central Asia. Haugen, a Norwegian scholar, methodically and scientifically examines Soviet national territorial delimitation in Central Asia. In this book Haugen examines many of the issues raised in Western scholarly works on Soviet national territorial delimitation… Stalin the Omnipotent was Responsible for National … Continue reading Review: “The Establishment of National Republics in Soviet Central Asia” – Arne Haugen

An Analysis of Soviet Economic Policy in the Periphery: Tajikistan in Context

Map Source: https://www.freeworldmaps.net/asia/tajikistan/map.html

Below is a copied and pasted version of a paper I published on Academia.edu (here) in which I examine the economic relationship between Tajikistan and the Soviet Union.

The economic relations between the Russian Soviet federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) (the centre) and the Soviet Union’s peripheral republics has frequently been described as ‘colonial’.

Nowhere is this colonial narrative more common than when discussing Tajikistan. The least industrially developed of the Soviet Union’s fifteen republics, there is no shortage of literature describing Tajikistan as a Soviet colony. According to Jesse Driscoll, “Tajikistan was never more than a frontier cotton colony.”[1] Similarly, Robert Strayer describes how the “imposition of a single-crop, cotton-growing economy on large parts of Central Asia during the Stalin years had created a highly dependent, almost colonial relationship with the more developed regions of the Soviet Union.”[2]

The theory of Tajikistan’s de facto status as a Soviet colony is attractive to scholars of Central Asia due to the civil war that engulfed Tajikistan between 1992-97. For decades scholars have debated the various factors that contributed to the outbreak of violence: regionalism, Islamic militancy and the spillover of the war in Afghanistan (one of the most famous mujahideen warlords, Ahmed Shah Massoud, was a Tajik), the overthrow of the Soviet Union, etc.[3] Yet, as Idil Tunçer-Kılavuz notes, none of these factors, collectively or individually, explain why Tajikistan experienced civil war, since all these factors also existed in Uzbekistan, including the existence of a powerful Uzbek warlord in Afghanistan, Abdul Rashid Dostum, with cross-border connections.[4] “Uzbekistan resembles Tajikistan in many ways,” writes Tunçer-Kılavuz:

Unlike the other Central Asian countries, the territories of today’s Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have long been home to sedentary societies. The literature on Central Asia describes their societies as having been influenced by Islam to a greater extent than the other Central Asian countries. They have similar social cleavage structures in terms of salience of regional identities and the prevalence of Islamic sentiment. Both their economics are based on agriculture. They share the legacy of the same Soviet past, having lived under the same Soviet institutions and policies, and then separated from the collapsed state. Economic factors stated as the causes of civil war in Tajikistan were valid for Uzbekistan as well. Both countries suffered from poverty, and the end of subsidies from the Soviet Union. They had similar social structures, with largely rural societies. A large degree of intermingling between their populations has taken place.[5]

Continue reading “An Analysis of Soviet Economic Policy in the Periphery: Tajikistan in Context”

Soviet Nationalities Policy and Territorial Delimitation: “Divide at impera” or something else?

Have you ever looked at a map of Central Asia and the Caucasus? If you answered ‘yes’, then you have more than likely wondered why the borders of many of the now independent states in these regions of the former Soviet Union are so confusing and seemingly irrational. The strategic and fertile Ferghana Valley, for instance, appears to be haphazardly divided between Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and … Continue reading Soviet Nationalities Policy and Territorial Delimitation: “Divide at impera” or something else?