The Qїrghїz Baatïr and the Russian Empire

A Portrait of a Local Intermediary in Russian Central Asia


In The Qїrghїz Baatïr and the Russian Empire Tetsu Akiyama gives a vivid description of the dynamism and dilemmas of empire-building in nomadic Central Asia from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century, through reconstructing the biography of Shabdan Jantay uulu (ca. 1839–1912), a chieftain from the northern Qїrghїz (Kirghiz, Kyrgyz) tribes. Based on the comprehensive study of primary sources stored in the archives of Central Asian countries and Russia, Akiyama explores Shabdan’s intermediary role in the Russian Empire’s military advance and rule in southern Semirech’e and its surrounding regions. Beyond the commonly held stereotype as a “faithful collaborator” to Russia, he appears here as a flexible and tough leader who strategically faced and dealt with Russian dominance.

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Tetsu Akiyama, Ph.D. (2010), Hokkaido University, is Associate Professor at the Waseda Institute for Advanced Study (WIAS). His publications include Why Was Russian Direct Rule over Kyrgyz Nomads Dependent on Tribal Chieftains ‘Manaps’? (Cahiers du Monde russe, vol. 56/4, 2015).
Explanatory Notes
List of Illustrations


1 A Child of the Jookerchilik Zaman
 1 Qїrghїz After the Collapse of the Zunghar Khanate
 2 The Formation of the Manap Stratum
 3 Young Shabdan Stands Out as a Baatїr

2 Between Qoqand and Russia
 1 Jantay as an Intermediary of the Qoqand Khanate
 2 Jantay Encounters the Russian Advance
 3 Jantay Under the Growing Russian Military Presence
 4 Jantay on the Military Administration System

3 Between Ruling Reform and Military Expansion
 1 Shabdan Appears Before the Russian Authority
 2 From Baranta to “Military Service”
 3 Shabdan as a Mediator
 4 Kolpakovskii Mistrusts, Kaufman Pardons Shabdan

4 Aristocrat or Parasite
 1 Shabdan’s Promotion to the Lieutenant Colonel
 2 The Manaps as Qїrghїz Aristocracy
 3 The Emerging “Anti-Manap Struggle”
 4 Shabdan as an Impediment to Russian Rule
 5 The “Queen Bee” of the Qїrghїz

5 On the Frontline of the Resettlement Policy
 1 From the “Sword” to “Money”
 2 Leaving the Deep Valley
 3 The Resettlement Administration as a New Player in Semirech’e
 4 Searching for a Middle Ground

6 Growing Relationship to Islam Under Russian Rule
 1 Shabdan as a Murid
 2 Baatïr to Baatïr Hajji
 3 Shabdan as a Representative of Islam
 4 Dilemmas Concerning the Engagement with Islam

Epilogue: Heading for Ruin
 1 The Russian Colonial Military Authorities in Shabdan’s Funeral
 2 Organizing the Ash
 3 The Russian Authorities and the Ash
 4 The Colonial Government Strengthens Its Intervention
 5 Shabdan Remains “Alive”: In the Name of Baatïr Hajji

All interested in the modern history of Central Asia/Eurasia and the Russian Empire, and anyone concerned with the history of modern empires in view of local actors including nomads.
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