WiP – Alexander Morrison – Re-writing the Russian Conquest of Central Asia

American Councils and CRRC are proud to present the 3rd talk in the Fall 2013 Works-in-Progress Series:
Dr. Alexander Morrison, University of Liverpool
“Re-writing the Russian Conquest of Central Asia”
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 6:15pm

ISET/CRRC Georgia, Zandukeli St. 16, Tbilisi, GEORGIA
The conquest of Central Asia by the Russian empire in the 19th century permanently transformed the political destiny of this vast region, ensuring that it would later be subject to the Soviet experiment, and that today it remains culturally and economically oriented towards Russia. The reasons behind this rapid example of European colonial expansion remain poorly-understood by historians: the three dominant narratives are 1) Marxist-Leninist, in which Russian conquered the region at the behest of big capitalists as a captive market for industrial goods and a secure source of raw cotton for the Moscow textile industry; 2) the ‘Great Game’, in which the conquest is no more than an incidental outcome of Russia’s rivalry with Britain and a desire to threaten India; and 3) The ‘accidental’ conquest, in which the ‘men on the spot’ – ambitious Russian officers – got out of control in their search for medals and glory. None of these explanations is wholly satisfactory, and all place Central Asia itself at the margins of the story. This paper will propose a new interpretation, one which focuses on Russia’s relations with Central Asian rulers and people, on reconstructing microhistories of different phases of the conquest, and on the changing self-perceptions of Russia’s ruling elite.
Alexander Morrison
 is Lecturer in Imperial History at the University of Liverpool, UK. From 2000 – 2007 he was a Prize Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, where he wrote his doctorate on ‘Russian Rule in Samarkand 1868 – 1910. A Comparison with British India’, which was published under the same title by Oxford University Press in 2008. He is currently writing a history of the Russian Conquest of Central Asia. From January 2014 he will be Professor of History at Nazarbayev University, Astana, Kazakhstan.
W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the International School of Economics (ISET) building (16 Zandukeli Street). It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public. The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

Would you like to present at one of the W-i-P sessions? Send an e-mail to natia@crrccenters.org.