FORUM FOR ANTHROPOLOGY AND CULTUREANTROPOLOGICHESKIJ FORUM
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Antropologicheskij forum, 2015, no. 25
A Review of SVETLANA GORSHENINA, ASIE CENTRALE. L’INVENTION DES FRONTIERS ET L’HERITAGE RUSSO-SOVIETIQUE. Paris: CNRS, 2012, 382 pp.; SVETLANA GORSHENINA, L’INVENTION DE L’ASIE CENTRALE. HISTOIRE DU CONCEPT DE LA TARTARIE A L’EURASIE. Paris: Librairie Droz, 2014, 702 pp.
European University at St Petersburg
Abstract: This review discusses two books by Svetlana Gorshenina, who investigates the construction of the notion of “Central Asia.” Gorshenina critiques the essentialist paradigm of primordial cultures, ethnic groups and regions, which could be studied and objectively measured. The review stresses the author’s intention to analyse the development of “Central Asia” in the mythological and academic imaginary. Gorshenina investigates how the name and the borders of the region have changed over time. She questions how different images and representations of Central Asia have been developed as part of various political projects in order to perpetuate systems of power and political control. This review points out how Gorshenina’s first book, published in 2012, addresses the history of how the concept of “Central Asia” was invented, as well as the delimitation of its borders in the 18th–21st centuries, i.e. the period under the rule of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. Her subsequent book, published in 2014, goes beyond political issues to investigate the intellectual framework within which the concept of “Central Asia” was constructed, and different ways it has been mapped and named. In comparison with her work from 2012, Gorshenina significantly expands the chronological framework of her analysis and interpretation, spanning two thousand years of history.
Keywords: imagined community, Central Asia, Turkestan, orientalism, geographical knowledge.
To cite: Abashin S., 'A Review of Svetlana Gorshenina, Asie centrale. L’invention des frontiers et l’heritage russo-sovietique. Paris: CNRS, 2012, 382 pp.; Svetlana Gorshenina, L’invention de l’Asie centrale. Histoire du concept de la Tartarie a l’Eurasie. Paris: Librairie Droz, 2014, 702 pp.', Antropologicheskij forum, 2015, no. 25, pp. 147–156.
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