This intensively researched urban study dissects Russian Imperial and early Soviet rule and colonial society in Islamic Central Asia from the diverse viewpoints of tsarist functionaries, soviet bureaucrats, Russian workers, and lower-class women as well as Muslim notables and Central Asian traders. Jeff Sahadeo's stimulating analysis reveals how political, social, cultural, and demographic shifts altered the nature of this colonial community from the tsarist conquest of 1865 to 1923, when Bolshevik authorities subjected Tashkent to strict Soviet rule. The exercise of colonial power did not unfold the way that authorities envisioned, as Central Asians employed intricate strategies to turn the colonial idiom to their own advantage. Nonetheless, Russian intellectuals in both the Imperial and Soviet periods viewed Tashkent as a laboratory for modern ideas of progress and a site to prove Russia's place as a 'civilized' European empire. In addition to examining local and national particularities of Russian imperial rule and colonial society, Sahadeo places the building of empire in Tashkent within a broader European context.
His evocative account makes an important contribution to understanding the cultural impact of empire on Russia's periphery. Jeff Sahadeo is Assistant Professor at the Institute of European and Russian Studies and the Department of Political Science at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. With Russell Zanca, Sahadeo is coeditor of "Everyday Life in Central Asia" (forthcoming IUP 2007).