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The 1916 Uprisings in Jizzakh: Economic Background and Political Rationales

Abstract : The 1916 uprisings in Jizzakh: economic background and political rationales Introduction Andrei Shestakov, one of the main historians and ideologues who produced articles and in the 1930s published a collection of archival documents on the 1916 revolt in Jizzakh, wrote that: the events (sobytiia) that occurred in the second half of the year 1916, when the Russian empire was collapsing on different fronts of the war, have to be considered without, any doubt, as one of the key moments that paved the ground for the revolution of 1917. This became clear when one looks at the process and the characters of the event of 1916 in Central Asia, where large masses of peasants and half “proletarianized” urban artisans rose up against the tsarist power. Considered the “first mass colonial revolution of the nineteenth century”, the uprisings of 1916 were, according to Shestakov, “a national and democratic movement that however lacked leadership”. These quotations seem old enough to be forgotten, however they dominated and still dominate the mainstream of Soviet and some post-​ Soviet historiography, especially in Uzbekistan, all of which was produced under important political constraints, and which forged durable representations of the event. To question these representations of the revolt as “national” and “massive”, we propose to discuss in depth the causes, character and rationale of the revolt, by shedding a new light on the specific case of the district (uezd) of Jizzakh, considered unanimously by Soviet official historians –​not without reason –​as the place where both the violence of the riots and their repression reached their peak, as far as the sedentary areas of Turkestan were concerned. There were no accurate estimates of the casualties and losses, and we can only rely on the figure given by Mirzo Quqonboy Abdukholiqzoda Samarqandiy, according to what people said. He wrote that from 15,000 to 20,000 natives died in the district of Jizzakh alone, against eighty-​ three persons among the official local and Russian administration, in addition to the seventy Russian women and children taken prisoner. These figures would correspond at a maximum to 10 per cent of the total population of the district (see Table 1). The number of persons under arrest reached 3,000 in the district. But these figures did not take into account the other consequences of both revolt and repression, that is to say the total or partial destruction of villages, crops, and displaced populations. Located half way between Tashkent and Samarkand and surrounded by mountain and steppe areas, during the pre-​ colonial period Jizzakh was not only important because of its bazaar and trade activities, but also because it was formerly a frontier fortress of the Emirate of Bukhara. Later, Jizzakh became a less significant town –​but still a district centre –​under the period of Russian Imperial domination. The living conditions were characterised by a peculiar mix of peasants and Kirgiz (i.e., Kazakh) stockbreeders, but the province (oblast) of Samarkand (in which the district of Jizzakh was located) was mainly a grain-​ growing area and suffered from the later adjustments of the decree decided by the Governor-​ General of Turkestan on 2 July (OS), that drafted more men from grain-​ growing areas than from the cotton-​ growing ones. Finally, the region of Samarkand had to provide 38,000 labourers (against the 35,000 planned initially), among which 10,600 men were from Jizzakh, while the estimate of the total population of the district in 1917 was 184,841. The first part of this chapter will focus on the economic background and the agrarian and agricultural situation of Turkestan and more particularly the district of Jizzakh on the eve of and during the First World War. In the second part we will discuss the presumed mass character of the revolt, its logic of diffusion, its inner rationales and leadership, in order to reassess the nature of the revolt and its presumed national character. For this purpose, we rely on archival documents from the National Archives of Uzbekistan or from the numerous collections of documents published mainly during the Soviet era. Furthermore, we also use the unfortunately too rare memories and testimonies of participants in the revolt that give additional and valuable information on the general context and a view from within. The agrarian and economic background of the revolts In 1916, uprisings...
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Submitted on : Thursday, January 7, 2021 - 11:22:06 AM
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Cloé Drieu, Akmal Bazarbaev. The 1916 Uprisings in Jizzakh: Economic Background and Political Rationales. Cloé Drieu; Alexander Morrison; Aminat Chokobaeva. The Central Asian Revolt of 1916: A Collapsing Empire in the Age of War and Revolution, Manchester University Press, 2020, 9781526129437. ⟨halshs-03101666⟩

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