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Unveiling Empire: The Multiple Lives of The Silk Maiden

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This article examines The Silk Maiden, a tale of heroism and cultural significance, as it modifies its messages and meanings across the twentieth century. From its Islamic underpinnings at the turn of the century, through the powerful tumult of Socialist Realism, to the national awakenings of the 1960s and 1970s, The Silk Maiden remained an iconic tale of loyalty and resistance. Despite its continued iconic status, the story also brings to light a relentlessly adaptive subaltern culture. First the tale reveals a remote world on the edge of the Russian Empire, then a culture quickly absorbed in the Soviet experiment, finally an expression of autonomy and independence. The social and political changes reflected in the story were mirrored in the medium as well, the oral epic became an opera and later a film. It is the story of modern Kazakhstan

Affiliations: 1: Independent Scholar, Washington, D.C., USA roulandm@georgetown.edu

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/content/journals/10.1163/22102396-04803001
2014-01-01
2017-11-22

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