Staunton, April 19 – Central Asians are “a patchwork of the Soviet, religious, archaic, and the contemporary,” Bakhtiyor Alimdzhanov says, with the values of families, neo-conservatism and religion currently predominant and promoting “’the feudalization’ of culture and identity.”
This divided, “hybrid,” consciousness benefits the elite, the independent Kyrgyz historian says; and the intelligentsia in these countries is “powerless.” As a result, the situation is “locked in” and may continue well into the future (mk.kg/politics/2020/04/19/v-centralnoy-azii-idet-feodalizaciya-kultury-i-nacionalnoy-identichnosti.html).
In this often confused situation, various groups are pushing revisionist agendas about the past. The three most prominent areas where new approaches are being called for concern “the heroization of the basmachi movement, the pressions against the national intelligentsia and the pressure against the indigenous population by “’colonizers.’”
These represent efforts by the current elites to legitimate themselves by showing their sympathies for those who resisted the Bolsheviks, but, Alimdzhanov says, he doesn’t believe that these attempts at revision have as yet had much impact on the population at large. The danger will come if they are raised to the level of official history.
“The archaization of society in Central Asia, unfortunately, is taking place rapidly,” he continues. “In the first instance, this is connected with Islam, that is, with the attractiveness of the Islamic way of life and the decline of civil culture, economics and education. Unfortunately, over the last 20 years, an integral national consciousness has not taken shape.”
He argues that such a consciousness needs to be promoted through the mass media and the Internet lest either indigenous counter-elites or foreign governments hijack the identities of Central Asians by playing up one element in the mix to the exclusion of all the others.