Central Asia Reader: The Rediscovery of History

By H. B. Paksoy | Go to book overview

Zeki Velidi Togan


The Origins of the Kazaks and the Özbeks

Editor's Introduction

A professor of history for over half a century, Zeki Velidi Togan ( 1890-1970), a Bashkurt Turk, studied and taught in institutions of higher learning on three continents, including the United States.1 His first book, Türk ve Tatar Tarihi (Turk and Tatar History), was published in Kazan in 1911. The renowned scholars N. Ashmarin and N. Katanov ( 1862-1922),2 both of Kazan University, and V.V. Bartold ( 1869-1930) of St. Petersburg University, invited Togan to study with them.

In 1913, Togan was asked by the Archeology and Ethnography Society of Kazan University to undertake a research trip to Turkistan. After successful completion of that endeavor, the Imperial Russian Academy of Sciences,3 jointly with International Central Asia Research Society, sponsored Togan for a more extensive expedition. Portions of Togan's findings began to be published in scholarly journals prior to the First World War. His lifetime output approaches four hundred individual items in at least five languages. He also had facility in several others.

Like the Ukrainian scholar Mikhail Hrushevsky ( 1866-1934) and the Czech Thomas Masaryk ( 1850-1937), Togan was not only a scholar devoted to writing about the history of his nation, but also worked to secure its intellectual, cultural, civil, and political independence. He became a leader of the Turkistan National

____________________

Excerpted from Bugünkü Türkili Türkistan ve Yakin Tarihi, 2d ed. ( Istanbul, 1981), p. 31ff. The first edition was published in Istanbul in 1947. It should be noted that there was an original edition in the Arabic alphabet, but it was not widely circulated due to the Second World War. This translation by H. B. Paksoy appeared in Central Asian Survey, vol. 11, no. 3 ( 1992).

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