Tajikistan: In the aftermath of death, heroism, and the sacrifice of civil war

A family in Tajikistan. Photo by Brenton Clark.
Tuesday 19 September 2017

CAIS Senior Lecturer, Dr Kirill Nourzhanov, recently published the article 'From hero worship to organized oblivion: representations of the People’s Front in Tajikistan’s national memory', in Nationalities Papers: The Journal of Nationalism and Ethnicity, Volume 45, Issue 1, 2017, pp 140-157.

In the article, he describes how the civil war that raged in Tajikistan between 1992 and 1997 was hugely traumatic for Tajik society. The conflict was structured along sub-ethnic lines, where elites from distinct cultural–historical regions vied for supremacy in the capital and for access to scarce resources. Its hottest phase, from May to December 1992, was particularly brutal and was marked by episodes of genocide, especially in the southern Qurghonteppa province, where entire communities were wiped out by fellow Tajiks just because they had resettled there from elsewhere as part of the Soviet economic development effort ( Bushkov, V. I., and A. V. Mikulskii. 1995. Tadzhikskaia revoliutsiia’ i grazhdanskaia voina) The war resulted in up to 150,000 deaths and 1 million refugees and internally displaced people.

The dislocation caused by the war, and the myriad personal tragedies and grievances it has produced, continue to divide Tajik society. Under such circumstances, incorporating the war into the national history is a fundamentally difficult task for the government of Tajikistan. It has to decide, pretty much on an ongoing basis, how to integrate the traumatic experiences into a grand narrative of nation-building. It is constantly compelled to dissociate itself from the worst excesses of the conflict, to decide which memories to nurture and which to suppress, and to create new historical myths and symbols that would bolster its legitimacy. Read more of Dr Nourzhanov's research.....

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Updated:  19 September 2017/Responsible Officer:  Centre Director/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications