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“In Bukhara”, cartoon from Molla Nasreddin (1907)

The History programme in HPRS is happy to host the talk by

Adeeb Khalid (Carleton College, USA)

A Revolution of the Mind:

Contests over Muslim Culture in the Age of the Russian Revolution

Friday 3 March 2017 at 4pm

room 8.154


The years after the Russian revolution were a period of great cultural effervescence in the Muslim communities of the Russian empire. Energized by a combination of hope and desperation, intellectuals introduced new forms of literature and poetry and visual culture, and new ways of thinking about community. This new culture was rebellious, for it featured numerous revolts—against convention and tradition, the authority of age, against Islam itself. In this paper, I will describe how this revolution in culture transpired in what became Uzbekistan. I will trace its roots in longer term projects of reform that predated the Russian revolution but were radicalized by it. Absolutely central to it was the idea of the nation, which had arrived in Central Asia before 1917; Bolshevism and its rhetoric of class were of far smaller significance. Paying attention to the national dimension of this cultural revolution, I argue, allows us to distinguish between the Russian revolution and Bolshevism, and to seek other comparative contexts for it. I will offer one such context, that of the state-driven modernization efforts in the late Ottoman Empire/early republican Turkey and in Iran.

On our guest:

Adeeb Khalid is Jane and Raphael Bernstein Professor of Asian Studies and History at Carleton College in Minnesota, USA. His research interests center on the history of the sedentary societies of Central Asia from the time of the Russian conquest of the 1860s to the present. He is particularly interested in the transformations of culture and identity as a result of historical change. The fate of Islam under Tsarist and Soviet rule has occupied a central place in his research. He is the author of three books: The Politics of Muslim Cultural Reform: Jadidism in Central Asia (University of California Press, 1998), Islam after Communism: Religion and Politics in Central Asia (University of California Press, 2007), which won the 2008 Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies; and Making Uzbekistan: Nation, Empire, and Revolution in the Early USSR (Cornell UP, 2015), which won the2016 Reginald Zelnik Prize of the American Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.