Shawn T. Lyons
In this essay on the Uzbek author and poet Abdulhamid Sulayman Cholpon (1897–1938), his novel Kecha va Kunduz (Night and Day) is examined as a bold critique of both Russian and Soviet colonialism in early twentieth century Central Asia. Despite increasing censorship and previous arrests by Soviet authorities, Cholpon subtly employs a variety of techniques including satire and farce to undermine the legitimacy of the Soviet government that was being established around him. Bitterly portraying the hypocrisy and collusion of jadid reformists, Muslim clerics and local Russian officials, this unfinished novel, which was halted by the author’s execution in 1938, remains as one of the darkest comments on Soviet Central Asian history in the Uzbek language.
This paper looks at the role of ethnicity in post-socialist political ideologies in Russia. It offers an examination of the language of nationalist and other political discourse in Buryatia and the ways in which post-socialist ideologies are largely a result of Soviet-era policies. In doing so, it examines the resurgence of Buryat ethnicity and argues that the ethnos has highly developed adaptive capabilities: it does not adapt only to its environment, but it adapts reality to its needs. The Buryat case can also been seen as providing a more general example of the formation of a political culture.