chapter  11
34 Pages

The struggle for the reestablishment of Oriental studies in twentieth-century Kazan: Mirkasym A. Usmanov

The foundation of a university in Kazan, the empire’s “Window to the East,” in 1804 reflected Russia’s urge to expand her territories and strengthen her position in Central Asia as well as in the Middle East and the Far East.1 This urge made it necessary to gather the relevant knowledge about these regions, and it is against this background that the new university obtained an Oriental section (Vostochnyi razriad). Kazan was the best-suited place for this task: speakers of several Oriental (Turkic) languages lived in the city and its vicinity, and the Tatar population of Kazan possessed many materials that were necessary for the teaching process: manuscripts in the Arabic and Persian languages as well as in several Turkic dialects.