Central Asia in Russian Language and Culture
Central Asia in Russian Language and Culture – an interdisciplinary symposium
Saturday 10th March, Macgregor-Matthews Room, New College, Oxford
Supported by the Ludwig Fund
Western Central Asia was conquered by the Russian empire between the early 18th and the late 19th century. After fifty years of Tsarist and seventy years of Soviet rule, the five Central Asian republics of the USSR became independent in 1991. Since then the region has seen a series of strengthened nation-building projects and a resurgence of Islamic practice and belief, but its cultural and political relationship with Russia remains profound. This is contrary to many predictions during the immediate post-Soviet collapse, which foresaw a greater orientation towards Turkey or China. Instead the huge importance of migrant labour from Central Asia for the economies of Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan has ensured a continuing, or even strengthened connection. Equally significant is the persistence of the Russian language and Russian culture throughout the post-Soviet sphere, even in the apparently culturally remote regions of Central Asia. Russian television and other media are still widely consumed, Russian literature is taught in schools, and knowledge of Russian as a marker of culture, education and social status remains widespread. In Kazakhstan over half the population continues to speak Russian as a first language, including at least 50% of ethnic Kazakhs. This Post-Soviet – or postcolonial – Russophone world has received little scholarly attention, but appears to share many characteristics with the much better-known postcolonial Anglophone and Francophone spheres. This symposium brings together specialists in Anthropology, Literature, History and Politics to consider both the place of Central Asia in Russian culture, and of Russophone culture in Central Asia.
9.30 – 10.00 Coffee
10.00 – 10.30 Alexander Morrison (New College) ‘Writing the Russian Conquest of Central Asia – Military Memoirs, Short Stories and Historiography’
10.30 – 11.00 Rossen Djagalov (New York University) ‘Premature Postcolonialists: The Soviet Caucasus/ Central Asia as a Laboratory for Third-World Culture’
11.00 – 11.30 Discussion
11.30 – 12.00 Coffee Break
12.00 – 1.00 Keynote Speech by Hamid Ismailov (BBC) author of The Railway, The Underground, The Dead Lake and, forthcoming, The Devil’s Dance.
1.00 – 2.30 Lunch Break
2.30 – 3.00 Nariman Skakov (Stanford University): ‘Folklore as Device: Dziga Vertov’s To You, the Front!’
3.00 – 3.30 Catriona Kelly (New College): 'The Black-and-White Poppies of Russian Arthouse: Central Asian Directors at Lenfilm, 1961-1990'
3.30 – 4.00 Discussion
4.00 – 4.30 Tea Break
4.30 – 5.00 Naomi Caffee (University of Arizona) “(The) Broken Russian:” Central Asia’s Russophone Writers and the Poetics of Post-Soviet Mobility’
5.00 – 5.30 Diana Kudaibergenova (University of Lund): ‘Kazakh “Russians” and “Shala” Kazakhs: Language, Discrimination and Ethnicity in the Russophone Sphere’
5.30 – 6.00 Sergei Abashin (European University, St Petersburg): ‘Russian Language exams for labour migrants from Central Asia: a new attempt at Russification?’ [in Russian].
6.00 – 6.45 Discussion
Attendance is free and open to all, but please write to YWxleGFuZGVyICEgbW9ycmlzb24gfCBuZXcgISBveCAhIGFjICEgdWs= if you wish to attend so that we can plan for numbers.
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