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By A. Haugen

After virtually 4 centuries of enlargement the Russian Empire in the beginning of the 20 th century lined gigantic territories at the Eurasian continent and incorporated an immensely assorted inhabitants. How used to be the recent Russian regime to house the complexity of its inhabitants? This ebook examines the function of kingdom and nationality within the Soviet Union and analyzes the institution of nationwide republics in Soviet principal Asia. It argues that the initially nationally minded Soviet communists with their anti-nationalist attitudes got here to view state and nationwide identification as worthwhile instruments in country development.

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In the increasing contact with Russians in late nineteenth and early twentieth century, ‘‘Muslim’’ also took on a broader meaning, defining the boundaries between the populations native to Central Asia and the European newcomers. Except from the ‘‘Muslim’’ identity, broadly defined identities had no prominent position in Central Asia. For the sedentary population more limited local identities had much greater importance, as had notions of descent groups and tribal lineages. Being an inhabitant of, for instance, Bukhara, or belonging to a particular lineage or descent group, was much more significant than being ‘‘Uzbek’’, ‘‘Tajik’’ or ‘‘Sart’’.

When this enterprise largely failed, it was ultimately because reality was too complex. The existing patterns of group identity did not conform to the categories employed. Furthermore, when different scholars came up with different conclusions and categorizations, it was a reflection of the fact that the group designations in question had no precise or unambiguous reference, but were attributed different meanings by different people at different places and times. For instance, as Bartol’d noted, when Kazaks used the designation ‘‘Sart’’, socioeconomic 34 The Establishment of National Republics in Soviet Central Asia aspects were predominant.

First, I discuss the most important identities in Central Asia prior to the incorporation of the region into the Russian Empire. Second, I examine the Tsarist era and the question of how identities changed during that period. 2 Traditional Identities As Central Asia was integrated into the Russian Empire during the latter part of the nineteenth century, military forces were followed by a host of Russian ethnographers and orientalists. There is general agreement that Tsarist Russia, in stark contrast to the succeeding Soviet regime, had no ambitions to change or reform Central Asian society in any fundamental way.

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