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Title: Divergent paths : a comparative analysis of Soviet and Turkish historical narratives of Central Asia, 1922-1937
Author: Erdman, Michael
ISNI:       0000 0004 7656 0485
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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The period between the end of the Russian Civil War and Turkish War of Independence (1922) and the start of the Great Terror (1937) was one of social and political upheaval, as well as state formation according to bold new patterns across Eurasia. As part of this dynamic, both the Turkish and Soviet governments sought to refashion the self-identification of their citizens through new national histories. These meta-narratives were intended to educate as well as indoctrinate, setting new rules and boundaries for inclusion and participation. Through my doctoral project, I problematize the role of state ideology (Gökalpian nationalism in Turkey; Stalinism in the Soviet Union) in the writing of the pre-Islamic history of Central Asia, with a particular focus on issues of nationhood and belonging. I seek to explain why the two narratives diverged sharply by the mid-1930s, despite having access to roughly the same body of primary sources and scholarly research. Turkish accounts stressed cultural and racial unity among Turkic-speakers, while Soviet histories emphasized miscegenation and the historically contingent nature of nations. They were articulated in school textbooks, conference presentations, monographs, popular histories and propagandistic publications, and were therefore available to all levels of society. By making use of a wide spectrum of all of these materials in Turkish, Russian, Kazakh, Azerbaijani, Crimean Tatar, Turkmen, Uzbek, Tatar and Kazakh, I explore the development of the narratives, their content and language of enunciation from the consolidation of Soviet and Turkish statehood until the eve of the Second World War. In doing so, I demonstrate the manner in which history became a tool of the state and its efforts to influence a rigid and highly controlled worldview on Turkish and Soviet citizens respectively.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral