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Making Uzbekistan

Nation, Empire, and Revolution in the Early USSR

In Making Uzbekistan, Adeeb Khalid chronicles the tumultuous history of Central Asia in the age of the Russian revolution. Traumatic upheavals—war, economic collapse, famine—transformed local society and brought new groups to positions of power and authority in Central Asia.

Author Information


Adeeb Khalid is Jane and Raphael Bernstein Professor of Asian Studies and History at Carleton College. He is the author of Islam after Communism: Religion and Politics in Central Asia and The Politics of Muslim Cultural Reform: Jadidism in Central Asia.


Luca Anceschi, University of Glasgow:

"Adeeb Khalid’s Making Uzbekistan is an important book, which challenges, through impressive research work and an extremely enjoyable narrative, recent scholarship and the many myths surrounding the national-territorial delimitation of Soviet Uzbekistan... [T]his brilliant book demonstrates that modern Uzbekistan was unequivocally made by Uzbek intellectuals in Central Asia, and not by Bolshevik commissars in Moscow. Adeeb Khalid has offered invaluable evidence to argue that Central Asia’s political fate remains equally in the hands of local leaders, and is not determined by obscure outside forces. It is in this sense that Making Uzbekistan will make a lasting contribution to Central Asian Studies."

Adrienne Edgar, University of California, Santa Barbara, author of Tribal Nation: The Making of Soviet Turkmenistan:

"Making Uzbekistan is an important and original work. Adeeb Khalid's account of the formative years of the Uzbek republic fills a major gap in the scholarship on Soviet and Central Asian history. The author highlights the continuities in people, ideas, and policies across the 1917 revolutionary divide, tracing the roots of Soviet-era transformations back to the jadid reformers of the tsarist empire. In addition to its chronological breadth, Making Uzbekistan is thematically wide-ranging, examining topics from national identity and political purges to film and literature. This book is uniquely valuable and will set the agenda for further study of Soviet Central Asian history."

Peter Holquist, University of Pennsylvania, author of Making War, Forging Revolution: Russia's Continuum of Crisis, 1914-1921:

"Adeeb Khalid's Making Uzbekistan is a tour de force. In it, he traces how modern Central Asia came to be imagined in national terms. Khalid examines how Turkestan, a colony of the Russian empire, became under Soviet rule several republics formed on national lines. It is a story of unintended consequences. Khalid insists on the role of the local intelligentsia in producing the culture and political structures of this region. Much scholarship has examined how Soviet republics emerged in the frames established in the Stalinist 1930s. Khalid examines the preceding two decades, when fateful choices were made and paths taken—and others closed. The story is a tragedy, in the classic sense of the term. The Bolshevik state and the Uzbek intelligentsias both pursued cultural reform and revolution. Their visions overlapped at crucial moments, but their projects remained different. His account culminates in the slaughter of the Uzbek intelligentsia who had helped make these republics, at the hands of the regime that made this project possible. This book is profoundly learned and yet at the same time is eminently clear. It tells a story both of political struggle and cultural reform. He bases his authoritative account on archives and research in Tashkent, Samarqand, Moscow, London and Paris, in writings and material in the Turkic (Uzbek) and Persianate (Tajik) languages of Central Asia and Russian, as well as modern scholarship in all these languages, plus modern Turkish, French, German and English. He tells it as both a story of Soviet history as well as a story of global anti-imperialism. (Readers of Erez Manela's The Wilsonian Moment will learn of a different moment and a different model for a wide swath of the colonial world in the 1920s.) This is a tragic but important history. It deserves a wide readership among scholars of Soviet history, Central Asia, and in the global twentieth century."

Audience: General/trade;