chapter  13
24 Pages

The politics of scholarship and the scholarship of politics: imperial, Soviet, and post-Soviet scholars studying Tajikistan: Lisa Yountchi

Russia’s nineteenth-century campaigns in the Caucasus (1816-1864) and Central Asia (1865-1884) resulted in the empire expanding its borders further east and a growing Muslim population coming under the power of the throne. In each of these campaigns, and in particular Russia’s conquest of Central Asia, the issue of Muslim subjects and their problematic relationship with Russia was at the heart of imperial policy in the region. For Konstantin von Kaufman, first governor-general of Turkestan from 1867 to 1881, the failures of earlier imperial policy towards Muslims in the Caucasus, and any attempt to prevent the same outcome in Central Asia, required that the Russian Empire fundamentally change its perspective towards Islam and its relations with its new Muslim subjects. Kaufman’s solution to Central Asia involved a closer relationship between academic scholarship and politics than had hitherto existed; he extensively relied on Russian historians and ethnographers to create and implement policy in the region.2