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The Bukharan People's Soviet Republic in the Light of Muslim Sources

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image of Die Welt des Islams

The short-lived People's Soviet Republic of Bukhara is usually dismissed as a Soviet puppet state that served merely as a prelude to the Sovietization of the former protectorate. Recourse to the thick documentation in the Arabic script (mostly in Uzbek, some in Persian/Tajik) left behind by the republic and now available in the central state archives of Uzbekistan allows a much more complex picture of the republic to emerge. This article presents a preliminary assessment of these Muslim sources to reveal the way the Bukharan government saw its mission and how its members imagined the world. Seen through these documents, the Bukharan republic appears as neither a puppet state, nor as transitional, but as an attempt at creating a modern national state for the Muslim population of Bukhara. Against the odds, it struggled to establish national sovereignty in the political and economic realms, with an independent foreign policy and a national memory. The intellectual moorings (and bureaucratic practices) of the republic owed more to Muslim modernist discourses of the late Ottoman Empire than to the Russian revolution.

Affiliations: 1: Northfield, MN


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