Central Asia and the Caucasus: Transnationalism and Diaspora

Central Asia and the Caucasus: Transnationalism and Diaspora

Central Asia and the Caucasus: Transnationalism and Diaspora

Central Asia and the Caucasus: Transnationalism and Diaspora

Synopsis

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, a number of linkages have been established between newly independent Central Asian states, or populations within them, and diaspora ethnic groups. This book explores the roles that diaspora communities play in the recent and ongoing emergence of national identities in Central Asia and the Caucasus. The loyalties of these communities are divided between their countries of residence and those states that serve as homeland of their particular ethno-cultural nation, and are further complicated by connections with contested transnational notions of common cultures and 'peoples'. Written by highly respected experts in the field, the book addresses issues such as nationalism, conflict, population movement, global civil society, Muslim communities in China and relations between the new nation-states and Russia. This innovative book will interest students and researchers of transnationalism and Central Asian studies.

Excerpt

Of the many momentous events that have marked the twentieth century, the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, the world's largest empire, arguably has had the most far-reaching consequences. Population dislocation, mass migration, and immigration were among the consequences of this dramatic series of sociopolitical changes. the end of Tsarist Russia caused the first wave of migration out of the fallen empire. in Central Asia and the Caucasus, during the early period of Soviet rule, an exodus of refugees left their homelands for neighboring countries, mainly Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, and China. in Iran and Turkey these political refugees set up cultural and political organizations and endeavored to sustain their links with the homeland. in later years, particularly during the 1930s, under pressures exerted on their already unwelcoming countries by the Soviet government, many of these refugees were forced to leave for other distant countries, in Europe or the United States, in pursuit of a safer haven. Unfortunately, there are no statistics available on the exact number of these refugees. Nevertheless, on the basis of available archival materials, one can deduce that prior to the outbreak of World War II there were tens of thousands of Tatars, Azerbaijanis, Armenians, Georgians, Turkmen, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, and Kyrgyz wandering into and out of the neighboring countries, some toward Europe or the United States, forming the first Caucasus and Central Asian diaspora communities.

The second wave of population dislocation was engendered by the process of forming the new Soviet state. An immediate consequence of implementing the ethno-federalist and authoritarian modernizing policies adopted by the Bolsheviks were massive migrations, forced or “voluntary, ” unique in modern world history. the engineered partition of the Tsarist Empire and the demarcation of the new borders in Central Asia began as early as April 1924, when the Sredazburo (Central Asian Bureau) of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party voted to partition the Tsarist administrative province of Turkestan. a process of administrative realignment across Central Asia then followed, and was finally completed in 1936. Under the new alignment, all of Central Asia was administratively divided into three organizational categories: autonomous republics, autonomous regions, and national territories. By adopting an ethno-administrative policy in Central Asia, the Bolsheviks initially divided the entire region into three national-territorial entities for Uzbeks, Kazakhs, and Turkmen.

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