Kazakhs and the State in Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union

Episode 374

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How did Russia rule its Central Asian borderlands? In this podcast, we explore the long history of local intermediaries in imperial rule through the lens of the Kazakh elite from the 18th century onward. We talk to Ian Campbell about his book Knowledge and the Ends of Empire: Kazak Intermediaries and Russian Rule on the Steppe, 1731-1917 (Cornell University Press) and then continue the discussion into the early Soviet period through a conversation with Maria Blackwood about her dissertation research on the first generation of Soviet Kazakhs.

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Contributor Bios

Ian Campbell completed his Ph.D. in History at the University of Michigan in 2011. A specialist in imperial Russian and Central Asian history, he is currently Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Davis. He is currently working on a trans-regional history of conquest and counterinsurgency in the Russian Empire.
Maria Blackwood is a Title VIII Research Scholar at the Kennan Institute. She completed her PhD in History at Harvard University in 2018. Her book manuscript examines the process of elite formation in early Soviet Kazakhstan, looking in particular at the first generation of Kazakhs who joined the Communist Party.
Chris Gratien is Assistant Professor of History at University of Virginia, where he teaches classes on global environmental history and the Middle East. He is currently preparing a monograph about the environmental history of the Cilicia region of the former Ottoman Empire from the 1850s until the 1950s.

Individual Interviews


Episode No. 374
Release Date: 31 August 2018
Recording Location: Harvard University
Audio editing by Chris Gratien
Music:  Katibim (Üsküdar'a Gider iken) - Safiye Ayla; Baglamamin Dugumu - Necmiye Ararat and Muzaffer
Special thanks to Karagüneş for use of "Istanbul" Bibliographies courtesy of Ian Campbell and Maria Blackwood


A notable Kazak intermediary, Ibrai Altynsarin (1841-1889) rose in the tsarist administration of the steppe to supervise the "Russo-Kazak" schools of Turgai province.  From Wikimedia commons.
A map produced by the tsarist Resettlement Administration showing Kazak land use patterns in Karakhobdinsk canton, Turgai province.  From the 1914 Atlas Aziatskoi Rossii, published by the Resettlement Administration.
A map illustrating regions targeted for peasant resettlement in the Russian Empire.  From the 1914 Atlas Aziatskoi Rossii, published by the Resettlement Administration.
A family of Russian settlers on the Golodnaia steppe.  From the Prokudin-Gorskii collection

Select Bibliography

Ian Campbell

Bayly, C. A.  Empire and Information:  Intelligence Gathering and Social Communication in
India, 1780-1870.  New York:  Cambridge, 1996.

Burbank, Jane, and Frederick Cooper.  Empires in World History:  Power and the Politics of
Difference.  Princeton:  Princeton, 2010.

Crews, Robert.  For Prophet and Tsar:  Islam and Empire in Russia and Central Asia.
Cambridge:  Harvard, 2006.

Dowler, Wayne.  Classroom and Empire:  The Politics of Schooling Russia’s Eastern
Nationalities.  Montreal:  McGill-Queen’s, 2001.

Frank, Allen.  Muslim Religious Institutions in Imperial Russia:  The Islamic World of
Novouzensk District and the Kazakh Inner Horde, 1780-1910.  Boston:  Brill, 2001.

Geraci, Robert.  Window on the East:  National and Imperial Identities in Late Tsarist Russia.
Ithaca:  Cornell, 2001.

Happel, Jörn.  Nomadische Lebenswelten und zarische Politik:  der Aufstand in Zentralasien
1916.  Stuttgart:  Franz Steiner, 2010.

Holquist, Peter.  “‘In Accord with State Interests and the People’s Wishes’:  The Technocratic
Ethos of Imperial Russia’s Resettlement Administration.”  Slavic Review 69, no. 1 (2010):  151-179.

Khodarkovsky, Michael.  Russia’s Steppe Frontier:  The Making of a Colonial Empire, 1500-
1800.  Bloomington:  Indiana, 2002.

Knight, Nathaniel.  “Grigor’ev in Orenburg, 1851-1862:  Russian Orientalism in the Service of
Empire?”  Slavic Review 59, no. 1 (2000):  74-100.

Martin, Virginia.  Law and Custom on the Steppe:  The Kazakhs of the Middle Horde and
Russian Colonialism in the Nineteenth Century.  Richmond:  Curzon, 2001.

Moon, David.  The Plough that Broke the Steppes:  Agriculture and Environment on Russia’s
Grasslands, 1700-1914.  Oxford:  Oxford, 2013.

Morrison, Alexander.  “Sufism, Pan-Islamism, and Information Panic:  Nil Sergeevich Lykoshin
and the Aftermath of the Andijan Uprising.”  Past and Present 214 (2012):  255-304.

Remnev, A. V., and N. G. Suvorova.  “‘Obrusenie’ aziatskikh okrain Rossiiskoi imperii:
optimizm i pessimizm russkoi kolonizatsii.”  Istoricheskie zapiski 11 (2008):  132-179.

Rottier, Peter.  “Creating the Kazak Nation:  The Intelligentsia’s Quest for Acceptance iin the
Russian Empire, 1905-1920.”  PhD diss., University of Wisconsin, 2005.

Sabol, Steven.  Russian Colonization and the Genesis of Kazak National Consciousness.  New
York:  Palgrave MacMillan, 2003.

Said, Edward W.  Orientalism.  1978.  2nd Ed.  New York:  Vintage, 2003.

Shablei, Pavel.  “Akhun Siradzh ad-din Saifulla al-Kyzyl’’iari u kazakhov Sibirskogo
vedomstva:  Islamskaia biografiia v imperskom kontekste.”  Ab Imperio 2012, no. 1
(2012):  175-208.

Sunderland, Willard.  Taming the Wild Field:  Colonization and Empire on the Russian Steppe.
Ithaca:  Cornell, 2004.

---.  “The Ministry of Asiatic Russia:  The Colonial Office that Never Was but Might Have
Been.”  Slavic Review 69, no. 1 (2010):  120-150.

Uyama, Tomohiko.  “A Particularist Empire:  The Russian Policies of Christianization and

Military Conscription in Central Asia.”  In Empire, Islam, and Politics in Central Eurasia, edited by Tomohiko Uyama, 23-63.  Sapporo:  Slavic Research Center, 2007.

Maria Blackwood

Amanzholova, Dina. Alash: Istoricheskii smysl demokraticheskogo vybora. Almaty: Taimas, 2013.
Hallez, Xavier. "Le ralliement des Kazakhs au pouvoir soviétique (1917-1920): Convictions politiques, système tribal et contexte russe." Cahiers du Monde Russe 56:4 (2015), 705-752.

Khalid, Adeeb. Making Uzbekistan: Nation, Empire, and Revolution in the Early USSR. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2015.

Morrison, Alexander. “Peasant Settlers and the ‘Civilising Mission’ in Russian Turkestan, 1865-1917." The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 43:3 (2014), 387-417.

Pianciola, Niccolò. "Décoloniser l'Asie Centrale? Bolcheviks et colons au Semirec'e (1920-1922)," Cahiers du Monde Russe 49:1 (2008), 101-143.

Liliana Riga, ­The Bolsheviks and the Russian Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Tomohiko Uyama, “The Geography of Civilizations: A Spatial Analysis of the Kazakh Intelligentsia’s Activities, From the Mid-Nineteenth Century to the Early Twentieth Century.” In Kimitaka Matsuzato, ed., Regions: A Prism to View the Slavic-Eurasian World. Sapporo: Hokaido University, 2000.


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