Saturday, February 17, 2007

Imaginary Course Number Three: Introduction to the History of Kazakhstan and Central Asia Under Russian and Soviet Rule


Allworth, Edward, ed., Central Asia: 130 Years of Russian Dominance: A Historical Overview, 3rd edition (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1994).

Martin, Terry, An Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939 (Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 2001).

Nove, Alec and Newth, J.A., The Soviet Middle East: A Communist Model for Development? (New York: Praeger, 1967).

Polian, Pavel, Against Their Will: The History and Geography of Forced Migrations in the USSR (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2004).

Course Description:

This course is an introductory survey course to the history of present day Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. In particular the course will concentrate on the era of Soviet rule from 1917 to 1991. The course will treat the area chronologically and emphasize the political, economic and social changes it experienced under Soviet rule. Among the topics that will be examined are the development of territorialized national identifications, the political subordination of the region to Moscow, the radical transformation of the territory’s economy and ecology and the changing social roles played by Islam and women in recent history. These topics will be covered in the course of examining the important political events in Soviet history and their impact on Kazakhstan and Central Asia. Among these events are the Bolshevik Revolution, Civil War, demarcation of internal Soviet borders along national lines, collectivization, industrialization, the assault on religion, the Purges, World War II, the Thaw and finally Glasnost and Perestroika. The course will emphasize a comparative approach and concentrate on the historical similarities and differences between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the two largest nations in the region.

Course Requirements:

This course will consist of lectures and discussions based upon the assigned reading. At the end of each week every student will be required to submit a 200 to 300 word long summary of the week’s readings. This summary should include the main points and themes addressed by the author. These summaries will count significantly towards the final grade for the class. Each student will also be required to write a 2000 to 2500 word long research paper on one of the weekly topics covered in class. This assignment is due the first day of the last week of classes. Plagiarism will result in failing the course and notification of the Dean.


Twelve Short Summaries 36% (3% each)
Final Research Paper 50%
Oral Participation 14%


Week 1 Geography, Peoples and Cultures

Chapter 3 in Allworth, pp. 92-130

Week 2 The Russian Conquest

Chapters 4 and 5 in Allworth, pp. 131-171

Week 3 Tsarist Rule

Chapters 6 and 7 in Allworth, pp. 172-206

Week 4 The Bolshevik Revolution

Chapters 8, 9 and 10 in Allworth, pp. 207-265

Week 5 Demarcation of National Borders the 1920s

Chapters 1 and 2 in Martin, pp. 1-27 and pp. 56-74

(Note these page numbers refer to the edition published in London)

Week 6 Promotion of National Cadres and Cultures in the 1920s

Chapter 4 in Martin, pp. 125-181

Week 7 Collectivization and Industrialization in the 1930s

Chapters 11 and 12 in Allworth, pp. 266-348

Week 8 Political and Cultural Changes in the 1930s

Chapter 13 in Allworth, pp. 349-396

Week 9 World War II: “Human Dumping Grounds”

Chapter 2 sections 2-4 and chapter 3 sections 1 and 2 in Polian, pp. 123-157 and 181-194

Week 10 Post-war Economic Development

Nove and Newth (read whole book)

Week 11 The Era of Stagnation

Chapter 17 in Allworth, pp. 527-572

Week 12 Glasnost and Perestroika

Chapter 18 in Allworth, pp. 573-607

Week 13 Conclusion


John A said...

That's astonishingly close to the course I'm taking at SOAS!

J. Otto Pohl said...

Shirin Akiner's course is the one you are taking? There are quite a few differences. Most notably she uses different texts, or did when I last checked in 2002.

I remember she relied more on Wheeler's 1964 text rather that the Allworth book which first came out in 1967. I think the Allworth book is really the only decent history text book on Central Asia. It helps that it has been updated a couple of times. I know when I was at SOAS that she did not use either Polian or Martin at all. They of course form the key readings in my syllabus for the 1920s and 1940s respectively. I did get the idea of using Nove and Newth from her course.

J. Otto Pohl said...

The main inspiration for this syllabus by the way was Edward Allworth's text which it follows quite closely except for three sections. But, it is hard to do the same history of the same region in too many different ways. I suspect you would find most courses on the history of modern Britian to be astonishingly close as well.

Energetic Storyteller, Family Historian & Grebel Lover said...


Your entire blog is marvelous. I have reviewed it quickly and you have such in depth information here. I will take more time to fully review it and will comment further. Have you found a way to make a living at this?

Anna Dalhaimer Bartkowski

J. Otto Pohl said...

Anna, thanks very much for the comment. No, I have not found a way to make a living writing. I just applied to another three academic jobs last week, but I am not very optimistic.