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Stalin’s tractor, Uzbek SSR (1930s)

The next meeting of the History Reading Circle will take place tomorrow, Wednesday 19 October, at noon, in office 8.402. Light refreshments will be provided.

We will discuss a draft by Beatrice Penati, on

Minuia kapitalizm? Colonial heritage, territorial planning, and industrialisation in the debates on the development of Central Asia (1920s).”


Please contact Dr Beben if you want to receive a copy of the paper.


This paper analyses some aspects of the early Soviet development debate on the nature of the economic system that existed in Turkestan before the revolution. This debate, often informed by very practical political considerations, was inextricably linked to three questions in economic policy: the opportunity of investing in the light industry, the size of farms that best would foster the recovery and expansion of the output of raw cotton, and the way administrative units should be defined. This paper identifies the fault lines of these controversies, the personalities involved, and the institutions they belonged to, both in Tashkent and in the ‘centre’. It argues that the ‘window of opportunity’ for debates on the nature of economic development in Central Asia before 1917 was wide open throughout the NEP period, while it narrowed and closed by the end of the decade. This angle of observation also allows some reflections on the nature and continuity/discontinuity in economic expertise on Central Asia between the Tsarist and early Soviet periods.