1916 Insurrection in Turkestan


In the summer of 1916 a number of uprisings by Muslims roiled the Russian Empire's Central Asian possessions. Central Asians were rising up against Nicholas II's order to mobilize the area's indigenous males to work on defensive fortifications and otherwise contribute to the war effort behind the front lines. Soviet historiography has treated these rebellions as key events in the history of Soviet Central Asian republics and Kazakhstan in the lead-up to the October Revolution. The uprisings were seen as part of "the fight by the region's toilers against the exploitative tsarist colonial regime and local feudal lords" and as a regional prologue to the revolution itself. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the 1916 uprisings attracted renewed interest in the now independent states of Central Asia and were subjected to a fresh wave of politicization and mythmaking. In some of these new states, the uprising of 1916 served as the starting point in constructing a contemporary historical and national identity befitting the attainment of independence in 1991.

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Introduction by Tatiana Kotyukova



  • Tatiana V. Kotyukova