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It was a Dark and Stagnant Night (‘til the Jadids Brought the Light): Clichés, Biases, and False Dichotomies in the Intellectual History of Central Asia

In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
Author: Devin DeWeese1
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This essay presents a broad critique of prevailing approaches to and assumptions about Jadidism, arguing that much earlier scholarship on the Jadids has misconstrued key aspects of their ‘program’ and has exaggerated their originality, impact, and importance. Following introductory discussions of the recurrent motifs and claims found in ‘Jadidocentric’ scholarship, the essay considers five issues in particular: (1) the academic bias through which scholars have taken the Jadids’ critique as reliably descriptive rather than polemical; (2) the neglect of earlier Central Asian manifestations of critiques similar to the Jadids’; (3) the analytical drawbacks of the notion of ‘modernity’ as used to characterize the Jadids; (4) neglect or denial of the religious character of the Jadids’ program; and (5) inattention to the wider intellectual history of Central Asia before and during the era of the Jadids.

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