- スラヴ研究 (ISSN:05626579)
- vol.53, pp.27-59, 2006
This paper aims to challenge various traditional views of the Russian Empire: that it was a ruthless "Russirier"; that it had a universalistic and hannonious principle for integration; that in its last stage the empire was transforming itself to a nation-state. I try to do so by examining history of two unsuccessful projects of the Russian Empire in Central Asia, that is, Christianization as propagation of a universalistic ideology, and military conscription as a tool of nation building. Debates on Christianization of Central Asians began in the 1860s. The Kazakhs and Kyrgyz were considered to be half-Muslims, unlike Tatars and Uzbeks ("Sarts"), and therefore relatively easy targets for propagation of Orthodoxy. Opponents to Christianization, however, maintained that it could antagonize Muslims (including Kazakhs and Kyrgyz) and cause disorders. In Turkistan, whose Muslim sedentary population was called "fanatic," Governor-General Kaufman practically prohibited missionary activities. He did not object to General Kolpakovskii's support to missionary activities among the Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and Kalmyks in Semirech'e, but the results of proselytism there were meager. Throughout the second half of the nineteenth century, only about one thousand Central Asian natives converted to Orthodoxy. The Tsar's manifesto of religious toleration in April 1905, which conditionally sanctioned conversion from Orthodoxy to other faiths, dealt a final blow to missionaries. Most of the baptized Central Asians went back to Islam and almost no one was newly converted after this. Scenes of the revolt of 1916 in Semirech'e, where rebels killed monks and Russians in arms gathered in church squares, were highly symbolic in the sense that the Orthodox Church, after all, belonged to the Russians, not the native peoples of Central Asia. The second part of the paper examines discussions on military conscription of Central Asians, who were exempted from it as inorodtsy (aliens). One of the arguments for conscription was the necessity of strong cavalry in preparation for possible wars with China and Afghanistan. Officers cited the high quality of Central Asian nomads as horse-riders, and emphasized that military service was a powerful tool of Russification and the best school to teach public order. Again, a major argument against military conscription was the possibility of disturbances. Many officers feared that military service would give the population leaders for possible insurrections. Some also insisted that the conditions of military service radically contradicted the mode of life of nomads who were accustomed to unlimited freedom. Overall, they alleged that Central Asians' "low blagonadezhnost' (trustworthiness) and grazhdanstvennost' (level of civic development)" was a fundamental obstacle to their conscription. Officers evaluated the combat ability of various ethnic groups differently. They generally regarded the sedentary population of Turkistan as cowards and called the Kazakhs excellent horsemen but not necessarily courageous warriors, but were fascinated by the splendid quality of the Turkmen as warriors. This fascination gave birth to the exceptional case of the Turkmen irregular cavalry. After 1905, Russian nationalists increasingly asserted that Russians bore an unjustly heavy burden in defending the empire, and called for drafting inorodtsy. During World War I, the Ministry of War drew up a bill to draft almost all the ethnic groups of the empire, but the Ministry of Interior nixed it. In 1916, the government suddenly decided to mobilize Central Asians not as soldiers but as laborers, which gave rise to a huge revolt. On the whole, discussions of military service by Central Asians (which continued for more than half a century) took the character of a chicken-and-egg problem. Would military service enhance their grazhdanstvennost' and Russify them, or did military service require a sufficiently high level of grazhdanstvennost' and Russification? Eventually, officials who mistrusted inorodtsy always managed to block conscription proposals. Reasons for the failure of the two projects were partly rooted in the Russian bureaucracy. Permission for missionary activities was often given after much delay or was not given at all. The Orthodox Church itself had a hierarchical and bureaucratic structure. By contrast, Muslim mullahs went into the steppe as peddlers and healers without bureaucratic procedures, and could easily adapt themselves to local society. Moreover, officials' grasp of local situations was shaky. They thought that native administration of volosts and villages formed an "impermeable curtain" and hindered them from knowing Muslim life. The most important point of my analyses is the particularistic features or Russian policy. Many officials shared the view that it was desirable to Russify Central Asians, but there was hardly any resolute determination to carry out concrete measures for this purpose. They were interested in passive maintenance of stability rather than active integration and Russification. They did not just differentiate Central Asians from the Russians, but also differentiated nomads from sedentary people, the steppe oblasts from Turkistan. Officials were obsessed with the idea that they had to discuss the pros and cons of a policy measure in relation to every single region or ethnic group. This attitude of alienating (or otherizing) Central Asians and classifying them is what I call particularism. Particularism partly derived from a character inherent to autocratic empires. In such empires, a subjugated country or people pledged allegiance separately to the monarch, and were given peculiar privileges and obligations. But in the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, quasi-academic discourses on ethnic characters added new meanings to particularism. Courageousness, warlikeness, trustworthiness and grazhdanstvennost' were considered to be characters of ethnic groups rather than qualities of individuals. This tendency to attach excessively great importance to ethnic characters was a product of Orientalism and the mind of the colonial state.