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Bridging civil society and government agencies:
Partnership for development policy formulation in the Asia Pacific region

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Our next Seminar....

11 August 2014
Crafting History for Autocratic Legitimation: Historiography in post-Soviet Uzbekistan
Seminar Venue: 29-106 (Hass Seminar room, entrance from Bldg 28 front)
Time: 12:10 - 13:30
Dr Mustafa Murat Yurtbilir, Visiting Fellow HASS, UNSW
Chair: Dr Jian Zhang HASS, UNSW


Karimov and Uzbek elites proved highly flexible in adjusting themselves to the new political situation after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. They initiated the creation of an instrumental history serving to legitimate their autocratic regime. The official historians have also been extremely pragmatic in adopting suitable bits and pieces from the past. They crafted a usable narrative according to the needs of Karimov and his official ideology. This paper examines the key components of Uzbek post-Soviet historical narration and tries to provide hints about its role in regime legitimation.

In the first part of the paper a brief overview of Soviet historiography which sets the groundwork for the Uzbek post-independence historiography will be presented. The article aims to show that anachronism has been a common characteristics of both Soviet and independent Uzbek histories. Secondly the return of Amir Timur to the political rhetoric of Uzbekistan and to the history books will be outlined. Later excerpts from writings of Hamid Ziyaev, leading official historian in the first decade after the independence will be overviewed. Lastly parts from other official historical works will be analyzed to reveal their selective usage of historical material for today's political demands.

The regime in Uzbekistan, obsessive with stability, was in burning need of a malleable and utilizable history. Karimov's autocratic hegemony employs a pragmatic and instrumental version of history in which the current definition of Uzbekhood is situated in the past, in order to support actual claims of legitimacy and authenticity.

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UNSW ADFA Asia Pacific Seminar Series

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