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Tribal Nation

The Making of Soviet Turkmenistan

Adrienne Lynn Edgar

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On October 27, 1991, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic declared its independence from the Soviet Union. Hammer and sickle gave way to a flag, a national anthem, and new holidays. Seven decades earlier, Turkmenistan had been a stateless conglomeration of tribes. What brought about this remarkable transformation?

Tribal Nation addresses this question by examining the Soviet effort in the 1920s and 1930s to create a modern, socialist nation in the Central Asian Republic of Turkmenistan. Adrienne Edgar argues that the recent focus on the Soviet state as a "maker of nations" overlooks another vital factor in Turkmen nationhood: the complex interaction between Soviet policies and indigenous notions of identity. In particular, the genealogical ideas that defined premodern Turkmen identity were reshaped by Soviet territorial and linguistic ideas of nationhood. The Soviet desire to construct socialist modernity in Turkmenistan conflicted with Moscow's policy of promoting nationhood, since many Turkmen viewed their "backward customs" as central to Turkmen identity.

Tribal Nation is the first book in any Western language on Soviet Turkmenistan, the first to use both archival and indigenous-language sources to analyze Soviet nation-making in Central Asia, and among the few works to examine the Soviet multinational state from a non-Russian perspective. By investigating Soviet nation-making in one of the most poorly understood regions of the Soviet Union, it also sheds light on broader questions about nationalism and colonialism in the twentieth century.

Adrienne Lynn Edgar is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She was formerly an editor of
World Policy Journal.


Einband Taschenbuch
Seitenzahl 320
Erscheinungsdatum 25.09.2006
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-0-691-12799-6
Verlag Princeton University Press
Maße (L/B/H) 23.6/15.4/1.8 cm
Gewicht 530 g


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  • LIST OF MAPS AND ILLUSTRATIONS ix ACKNOWLEDGMENTS xi NOTE ON TRANSLITERATION xv INTRODUCTION Tribe, Class, and Nation in Turkmenistan 1 PART I: MAKING A NATION CHAPTER ONE Sources of Identity among the Turkmen 17 CHAPTER TWO Assembling the Nation: The Creation of a Turkmen National Republic 41 CHAPTER THREE Ethnic Preferences and Ethnic Conflict: The Rise of a Turkmen National Elite 70 CHAPTER FOUR Helpers, Not Nannies: Moscow and the Turkmen Communist Party 100 CHAPTER FIVE Dueling Dialects: The Creation of a Turkmen Language 129 PART II: CONSTRUCTING SOCIALISM CHAPTER SIX A Nation Divided: Class Struggle and the Assault on "Tribalism" 167 CHAPTER SEVEN Cotton and Collectivization: Rural Resistance in Soviet Turkmenistan 197 CHAPTER EIGHT Emancipation of the Unveiled: Turkmen Women under Soviet Rule 221 CONCLUSION From Soviet Republic to Independent Nation-State 261 GLOSSARY OF TERMS AND ABBREVIATIONS 267 BIBLIOGRAPHY 269 INDEX 287