In This Review

Making Uzbekistan: Nation, Empire, and Revolution in the Early USSR
Making Uzbekistan: Nation, Empire, and Revolution in the Early USSR
By Adeeb Khalid
Cornell University Press, 2015, 440 pp

Uzbekistan, Central Asia’s most populous state, entered a critical moment in its history last fall, after the death of Islam Karimov, who had been in power since even before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Khalid’s lucid, rich history of the country’s origins will add considerable depth to readers’ understandings of the array of forces that shaped this important part of Central Asia in the 1920s. In particular, Khalid demonstrates how much more complicated the Soviet Union’s formation appears when viewed from the perspective of the regions, rather than exclusively through the prism of the aims and actions of those in the Russian center. In Uzbekistan, the process was indeed intricate. Some Uzbeks bought into the Bolshevik agenda but not its premises, and there was as much friction among key Uzbek factions as there was between the Uzbeks collectively and their new Soviet colonizers. Khalid focuses on the relationship between the Bolshevik vanguards sent from Moscow in the early years after the revolution and the progressive Muslim intelligentsia known as the Jadids, who were already an established force at that point. The two groups shared a commitment to modernizing Uzbek society, but the Jadids sought to transform a nation rather than to wage a revolution built around class struggle. Although Stalin eventually silenced the Jadids, Khalid argues that the dynamic tension between these contending forces during these early years produced a golden age in Uzbek culture and the foundations of the Uzbek state.