Recent political changes in Central Asia, where the United States is replacing Russia as the dominant power, are having a profound effect on Russian speakers in the region. These people, formerly perceived as progressive and engaging with Europe, are now confronted by the erasure of their literary, musical, cinematic and journalistic culture, as local ethnic and American cultures become much stronger.
This book examines the predicament of Russian culture in Central Asia, looking at literature, language, cinema, music, and religion. It argues that the Soviet past was much more complex than the simplified, polarised rhetoric of the Cold War period and also that the present situation, in which politicians from the former Soviet regime often continue in power, is equally complex.
Table of Contents
Preface: Big, Eventful Empires and Andijan’s Quiet Tragedy 1. Before Russia and Uzbekistan: Subtle, Suppressed Affinities 2. Troubles with Islam and "Ecstasy or Self-Oblivion" 3. Folk Music and Dance: Plaintive Sobbing or Fiery Virtuosity? 4. Introducing Russian Classical Music to Central Asia 5. The Onset of Russian Literature’s Kindly Genius 6. Simplifying One Thousand Years of Uzbek Poetry 7. Today’s Culture and the Ironic Benefits of the Internet 8. Conclusion: Eventful Encounters with a Horror Vacui
David MacFadyen is a professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of several books on many aspects of Russian literature and culture, including the poetry of Joseph Brodsky, classic Soviet prose, popular song across the twentieth century, comedic cinema, and animated film.
'Amongst MacFadyen's conclusions is that the tragedy of Russian experience in Central Asia is that the gap of experience is the truth, and not a barbarous falsehood; the embodiment of 'death and destruction' that empire sees beyond its borders is part of the very diversity it purports to exemplify.'
- Oxfam's Development Resources Review