Central Asia: Aspects of Transition

By Tom Everett-Heath | Go to book overview

4

LAND AND WATER ‘REFORM’ IN THE 1920S

Agrarian revolution or social engineering?

Gerard O’Neill


Overview

During the two decades following the October Revolution of 1917, Central Asia was subjected to a Bolshevik campaign against every aspect of traditional life. Taking advantage of the power vacuum that followed the Revolution, the Russian Bolsheviks of the Tashkent Soviet (the engine of the Revolution in Central Asia) seized the initiative. They destroyed the fledgeling autonomous government of Kokand during February 1918, quashing what little organised and native political cohesion there was in Turkestan. By 1920, the rulers of the two khanates - Bukhara and Khiva - had also been removed. Very soon, only two routes for discourse were available to the politically conscious among the native population: the Communist Party and the Basmachi, whose star was to wane throughout the 1920s. Traditional sources of authority were undermined and their bases of power suppressed. Traditional attitudes, especially with regard to familial relations and the relative virtues of the new socialist order, were the targets of a relentless propaganda bombardment. The Moscow government undertook the integration into the Soviet state of what previously had been regarded as ‘borderlands’. Concomitant with this integration was the removal of all traces of the pre-Soviet political configuration of Central Asia. This involved erasing from the map not only the two historic khanates of Khiva and Bukhara, but also the Tsarist territorial administrative units known as the Turkestan Governate in the south and the Steppe Region in the north. Closely following this redistribution of territory, in late 1925, the new republican governments of the region embarked on a wholesale programme of land redistribution with the intention of sweeping away the traditional patterns of land tenure.

Land redistribution was not a corollary of territorial change; rather, it accompanied and even preceded the ultimate nationalisation and collectivisation that were clearly outlined as Bolshevik policies, even while so-called ‘national self-determination’, which was to form the basis for the 1924 ‘national delimitation’ of Central Asia, was suffering a tortuous and illegitimate birth. 1 In Aminova’s

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Central Asia: Aspects of Transition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Turkfront 5
  • 2 - The Kokand Autonomy, 1917-18 30
  • Notes 44
  • 3 - Ethno-Territorial Claims in the Ferghana Valley During the Process of National Delimitation, 1924-7 45
  • 4 - Land and Water ‘reform’ in the 1920s 57
  • 5 - Nation Building in Turkey and Uzbekistan 80
  • 6 - Nation Building and Identity in the Kyrgyz Republic 106
  • 7 - The Use of History 132
  • 8 - Soviet Development in Central Asia 146
  • 9 - Environmental Issues in Central Asia 167
  • 11 - The Uzbek Mahalla 205
  • Notes 217
  • 12 - ‘Fundamentalism’ in Central Asia 219
  • Notes 240
  • 13 - Water 244
  • Bibliography 264
  • Index 283
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