Central Asian Themes

“The Turkmen lost his arm during a battle on July 27, but had remained on the battlefield and continued fighting with his torn arm in his armpits.”
One chapter in the volume on the intertwined relationship between public health and the biopolitical dimensions of nation building discusses the parallel lives of a Russian and a Turkmen hero of the Great Patriotic War.
“In March 1942, the war had already been long over for the Komsomol member Gurban Durdy. He recovered at a military hospital and later returned to Turkmenistan.”
“After the war, Durdy was no longer suitable for the role of an All-Union identification figure in the Russian-dominated USSR because of his non- Russian (non-Slavic) origin, and he gradually disappeared from the view of the main Soviet press and was featured only rarely in Moscow’s publications.”
“Under Niyazov’s rule, Durdy, who was firmly rooted in Russian culture and language and remained a great hero of the Soviet era, faded into the background. This role was taken over by the soldier Atamyrat Niyazov, the president’s father, who lost his life in 1943.”

“The Tajik scandal, which broke out during the 22nd Congress, made visible the rise of a local (if corrupt) bloc of power, further drawing attention to the national question.”
A book that attempts to keep the attention of contemporary analysts focused on the social and cultural legacies of totalitarian experience in the space between Prague and Pyongyang.
“Unlike what happened in the case of colonial empires and the Tsarist empire, the USSR never treated ‘natives,’ for instance those of Central Asia, differently from other citizens before the law.”
“Stalin’s reaction to the earthquake in Ashgabat: ‘What is Turkmenistan—scorched earth? Some might think we are not an advanced state, equipped with its own observatories and seismic stations, but rather a place like Ethiopia.’”
“In 1950, overturning old Bolshevik interpretations of the Tsarist empire as a ‘prison of the peoples,’ the magazine Bolshevik claimed that Russian penetration in Central Asia and in the Caucasus, far from having been negative and imperial in character, had been a factor of progress.”
“Until recently most of the conflicts—with the exception of the civil war in Tajikistan—have involved secessionist efforts by autonomous regions within the former republics that antedated the dissolution of the USSR. Republic borders have been largely observed.”

“If you feel lonely and sigh, you see compassion
You are the Turkmen with beautiful houri-like girls like Agayunus”
Two lines by Saparmyrat Niyazov, discussed with the literary output of other despots.
“Until the death of Niyazov, the Ruhnama defined the life of Turkmens in a virtually dictatorial manner… even for obtaining a driver’s license, it became obligatory for citizens to pass a sixteen-hour course on interpreting the Ruhnama.”
“The neutrality of Turkmenistan is represented as a fulfillment of an ancient dream, anchored in the origins of the nation: It was Oguz Khan’s wish and prayer uttered five thousand years ago that our land may be at peace forever.”
“What at first glance appears to be the product of an involuntary Dadaism proves on closer inspection to be a construct that is coherent in itself and enormously powerful: the Ruhnama constructs the symbolic order of Niyazov’s autocratic rule.”

Titles on the CEU Press back list with relevance to Central Asia: 

Some of the older titles are out of print nevertheless bookshops or online distributors may get you print-on-demand copies, and all CEU Press titles are sold in digital version at the major electronic distributors.