The Caspian disputes: nationalism and nomadism in early Soviet Central Asia

Thomas, A. ORCID: 0000-0001-9062-3874, 2017. The Caspian disputes: nationalism and nomadism in early Soviet Central Asia. The Russian Review, 76 (3), pp. 502-525. ISSN 0036-0341

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Immediately following the Russian Civil War, new Soviet authorities sought to resolve a series of conflicts involving the nomadic communities living along the north and eastern shores of the Caspian Sea. To the north, beyond the Ural River, nomads competed with Russian farmers for pasturage. Further south, around the Garabogazkol Lagoon, nomads from different tribes were engaged in a cycle of violence and recrimination. Communist party members, working alongside local elites, interpreted all these conflicts as disagreements between nations and proffered solutions congruent with this analysis. Peace agreements were written and signed, borders drawn, and national territorial jurisdictions extended and defended. In both areas conflict was not resolved and nomadic hardship was in fact exacerbated. The Caspian Disputes and their incomplete resolution contain lessons on the Soviet state's treatment of two minorities: non‐Russian nationalities and nomads. For the former, we see the limited utility of a European conception of nationalism applied to Soviet Central Asia. For the latter, we see what influenced and complicated the relationship between nomad and state before the collectivization campaign endowed that relationship with a brutal simplicity. This represents a step towards a more comprehensive understanding of how Soviet power treated nomads from its very inception.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: The Russian Review
Creators: Thomas, A.
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Date: July 2017
Volume: 76
Number: 3
ISSN: 0036-0341
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 21 Jun 2017 10:17
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2020 15:48

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