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17. Kutlu-Mukhammad Batyr–Gireevich Tevkelev (1850–?) and Family

Edited by Stephen M Norris and Willard Indiana University Press ePub



In August 1916, two State Duma deputies, Alexander Kerensky and Kutlu-Mukhammad Batyr-Gireevich Tevkelev, traveled to Turkestan to investigate the causes of an uprising against conscription into labor battalions among the region’s native peoples.1 Both men had connections to central Asia. Kerensky had spent part of his youth in Tashkent where his father served as a school administrator. Tevkelev’s great great grandfather, also Kutlu-Mukhammad Tevkelev (1674/75–1766), had traveled to central Asia two centuries before as a translator for Peter the Great. This Tevkelev took the name Aleksei Ivanovich in 1734, served as second in command of Ivan Kirilov’s Orenburg Expedition, and became notorious in Bashkiria for his vigorous use of lethal force to suppress the Bashkir uprising of 1735–39. The Tevkelev family’s five-generation journey from one Kutlu-Mukhammad considered a tsarist “executioner (palach)”2 to another who was an elected leader of the Muslim fraction in the State Duma tells much about the changing possibilities for elite Muslims in the Russian Empire from the seventeenth century until its collapse in 1917.

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27. Mukhtar Auezov (1897–1961)

Edited by Stephen M Norris and Willard Indiana University Press ePub



With a life spanning the first six decades of the twentieth century, Mukhtar Auezov was a successful playwright, novelist, and scholar. His life provides a glimpse into the tumult of Central Asia in the twentieth century and raises questions about the constructed pantheon of Soviet intellectuals—their sacrifices, compromises, and ethnic diversity. Auezov, like many other prominent intellectuals of his time, struggled to avoid the purges while maintaining ideas of nationality, culture, identity, and modernity that ran counter to the socialist ethic prevalent in Moscow and Leningrad. Auezov transcended the Russian and Soviet paradigm that designated non-Russians as “native intellectuals” brought into the socialist fold and educated by the Soviet system. Significantly, his work illuminates the contradictions of the vague and antagonistic ideologies of nationalism and socialism.

Mukhtar Auezov was born in 1897 to an influential family in the village of Chingistan, near Semei (formerly Semipalatinsk). After completing his early education at the Semipalatinsk Teachers’ Seminary, he spent the revolutionary era in several official Russian imperial positions from Semipalatinsk to Orenburg, where were located on the front lines of the late civil war. When the dust settled, local party officials sent Auezov, who already had been identified as a promising playwright, to study Russian philology at Leningrad University in the mid-1920s.

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13. Archbishop Innokentii (Borisov, 1800–1857)

Edited by Stephen M Norris and Willard Indiana University Press ePub



Few places in the empire rivaled the diversity of New Russia, a vast territory lining the northern Black Sea littoral conquered from the Ottomans in the eighteenth century. From the era of Catherine II (1762–96), the empire promoted cultural autonomy and religious toleration among subject populations, yet recognized Orthodoxy as the state religion. These policies left a legacy of mixed rights and privileges that divided populations for decades. Rather than assimilating immigrants into the empire, imperial policies often reinforced or created new boundaries around native identities. Of Crimea, for example, one French visitor commented that “sometimes, just to cross the street, you believe you are passing from Europe to Asia.” Unlike the Americas, Europe and Asia, where “diverse peoples exist, but they mix in the same quarter, and strive . . . to assimilate,” he noted that in Crimea “there is nothing similar; at the minimum is one race, who lives in the village inhabited only by its own, or within a separate quarter in the village that becomes two in which the religion, the manners, the dress, the houses are all very different from one to the other.”1 He was most struck by the isolation of these groups from each other, noting that peoples of Crimea—Tatars, Jews, Eastern Europeans, Greeks, Germans, Roma, and Russians—lived in their own colonies, divided largely by their confession.

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6. Mikhail Lomonosov (1711–1765)

Edited by Stephen M Norris and Willard Indiana University Press ePub



As the old saying goes, comparisons are odious. To make sense of Mikhail Vasil'evich Lomonosov, historians have frequently resorted to comparisons more or less apt (usually less). Almost all of the comparisons emphasize his ventures in natural philosophy—the set of doctrines and practices concerning the study of nature that would, in the nineteenth century, acquire the moniker “science.” Russian historians tended to see him as akin to Antoine Lavoisier (1743–94), the French chemist and member of the Parisian Académie des Sciences credited with the discovery of oxygen and the law of the conservation of matter: matter is neither created nor destroyed, but only changes form. This comparison bolsters (by suggestion) a claim for Lomonosov’s priority for the conservation law, and also emphasizes the Russian’s position as a member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences—and hence his analogous location in a complicated absolutist patronage network. Western historians have likened Lomonosov to Benjamin Franklin (1706–90), emphasizing both men’s research on electricity, folksy self-presentations, and positions as outsiders on the European stage of Enlightenment natural philosophy.1

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Edited by Stephen M Norris and Willard Indiana University Press ePub


Italics indicate lives explored in this volume


Ivan IV, just 3 years old, becomes Grand Prince of Moscow 1530s/40s–1585: Life of Ermak


Ivan IV is the first Russian ruler to be crowned tsar, the Russian term for “Caesar”


Conquest of Kazan and annexation of the Kazan Khanate


Annexation of the Khanate of Astrakhan'


Livonian War—Ivan IV’s armies initially conquer parts of Livonia and Lithuania, but are defeated by Poland-Lithuania and Sweden


Conquest of Novgorod


Life of Simeon Bekbulatovich


Ermak’s campaign against the Khanate of Siberia


Death of Ivan IV; his son, Fëdor, becomes tsar


Fortress towns of Ufa, Tobolsk, and Tiumen founded


Death of Fëdor; Boris Godunov elected tsar


Death of Boris Godunov; Russia experiences period of political pretenders

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