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Variations on Uzbek Identity

Variations on Uzbek Identity: Strategic Choices, Cognitive Schemas and Political Constraints in Identification Processes

Peter Finke
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Variations on Uzbek Identity
    Book Description:

    Throughout its history the concept of "Uzbekness," or more generally of a Turkic-speaking sedentary population, has continuously attracted members of other groups to join, as being Uzbek promises opportunities to enlarge ones social network. Accession is comparatively easy, as Uzbekness is grounded in a cultural model of territoriality, rather than genealogy, as the basis for social attachments. It acknowledges regional variation and the possibility of membership by voluntary decision. Therefore, the boundaries of being Uzbek vary almost by definition, incorporating elements of local languages, cultural patterns and social organization. This book combines an historical analysis with thorough ethnographic field research, looking at differences in the conceptualization of group boundaries and the social practices they entail. It does so by analysing decision-making processes by Uzbeks on the individual as well as cognitive level and the political configurations that surround them.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-239-3
    Subjects: Anthropology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vi-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xv)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xvi-xvi)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-28)

    When the new government of Uzbekistan declared the medieval ruler Timur the Lame its national hero in 1993, an outcry rocked the academic community. Had Timur’s descendants not been the ones expelled from the region when the Uzbek tribes invaded it and took over? Had not Timur and his descendants, in particular Babur, the founder of the Moghul Empire, despised the Uzbeks as uncivilized and bloodthirsty? Whatever Timur might have been, so went the scholarly creed, he had not been an Uzbek (Allworth 1990; Foltz 1996; Kurzman 1999).

    Since then, the question of ‘who are the Uzbeks?’ (Critchlow 1991) and...

  7. Chapter 1 A Historical Sketch of the Uzbeks: From Nomadic Conquerors to Post-socialist Farmers
    (pp. 29-64)

    The lack of archival access is particularly regrettable, because in the case of many of the field sites (and other localities in Central Asia), historical knowledge is in fact scanty. While the overall patterns seem to be relatively well established, grounding also on an old indigenous writing culture, regional variations and peculiarities remain largely unexplored and sketchy. Of course, for the sake of this study, a more accurate understanding of these would have been desirable in order to see how larger trends and developments have worked out on the ground in a region as diverse as Central Asia.¹

    This chapter...

  8. Chapter 2 A Central Asian Melting Pot: The Oasis of Bukhara
    (pp. 65-111)

    Apart from Samarqand, the oasis of Bukhara is probably the best-known locale in Central Asia and has been one of its political and cultural centres for millennia. The numerous architectural monuments, mainly from the Islamic period, are vivid expressions of this stature. One of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world, the contemporary city of Bukhara celebrated its 2,500th anniversary some years ago, but several other sites in the oasis may have preceded it by centuries.

    In the context of this study, Bukhara represents the close intermingling of Uzbeks and Tajiks – i.e. Turkic and Iranian speakers, respectively – that continues...

  9. Chapter 3 Desperation at the End of the World? The Oasis of Khorezm
    (pp. 112-151)

    The second field site, the district of Xo‘jayli, is located in the southern part of the Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakistan. Geographically and historically, this is part of the larger oasis of Khorezm, which has always been a key player in Central Asian history. Although rarely able to assert dominance over such perennial strongholds as Bukhara and Samarqand, except for a brief period in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Khorezm was a major rival to population centres along the Zarafshon River for much of its history. Of similar age, the oasis has suffered some of the worst destruction and for that...

  10. Chapter 4 Conflict Inevitable? The Ferghana Valley
    (pp. 152-193)

    The third field site was the Ferghana Valley, and more specifically the district of Marhamat in Andijon province. Since the early days of Soviet rule, the Ferghana Valley has been divided among three republics, namely Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Although inhabited at least as far back in antiquity as the other sites, it has seldom been a key player in the history of Central Asia. The city of Osh in contemporary Kyrgyzstan celebrated its 3,000th anniversary some ten years ago, thus claiming greater antiquity than places like Bukhara, but frequent conquests and the valley’s somewhat marginal status during medieval times...

  11. Chapter 5 Birthplace of a National Hero: The Oasis of Shahrisabz
    (pp. 194-226)

    The final research site for this book is the oasis of Shahrisabz and its hinterland in the northeast of Qashqadaryo province. Due to its upstream location along the eponymous river, the area is sometimes also referred to as Upper Qashqadaryo, or ‘yuqori Qashqadaryo’ (Karmysheva 1960a; Jurayev 1969; Kubakov 1972, 1977). This region has rarely been a major player in the history of Central Asia, although its date of permanent settlement goes back a long time. Architectural reminders of the past, however, are few, and for most of its history the oasis was inferior in prestige and power to neighbouring Samarqand....

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 227-239)

    The purpose of this book has been to investigate processes of identity formation and change among the Uzbeks in a variety of settings within the state of Uzbekistan. I did not, however, set out to present a comprehensive picture for the whole of Uzbekistan or indeed for any of the four oases for at least two reasons. On the one hand, a comparative project by its very nature limits the time spent at the individual sites. I am well aware that in each case a longer stay may have brought to light additional information necessitating a refinement or even a...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 240-263)
  14. Index
    (pp. 264-272)