Vol 22, No 2 (2023): Muslim Subjectivities in the Mirror of Historical Sources


Muslim subjectivities in Russian history

Mardanova D.Z., Salikhov R.R.


A researcher who studies the subjectivity of believers and religious people will have a number of unanswered questions. Through their work, the author has hoped to address the most prominent of them: the problem of sincerity, the relationship between external and internal subjectivity, the methodology of research of the subject, the multi-discursiveness of subjectivity, and, in many respects, the duality of the given (traditional) and the indefinite/unestablished (new) thought provoked by its study. Several definitions of the concept of “subjectivity” are also proposed by the author, and Muslim subjectivities are considered in the historical context of the period, and how they are represented and covered under a new form of historical research - the History of Muslim Subjectivities. The article ends with a brief review of the thematic themes on the subject, including: the Soviet view of Muslim childhood; the “prison experience” of Russian Muslims; female subjectivity; and Islamic rhetoric and discourse of modernity.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2023;22(2):168-173
pages 168-173 views


What are We to Do with ‘Muslim Subjectivity’? Prospects and Pitfalls of the Research Approach in a Historiographical Context

Bessmertnaia O.I.


The author discusses, in the historiographical context, problems posed by the growing wave of research on the “history of Muslim subjectivity.” Noting the paradoxical danger of the reorientalization of and the loss of historicity in Islamic studies, the author insists on the importance of the very designation of the emerging approach and suggests as a more correct term “history of Muslim subjectivities”. Some aspects of the nowadays’ interpretations of the interaction between the individual and the social and cultural in history, of the role of agency and subjecthood of historical actors are considered, as well as the correlation between persona studies and studies of the “techniques of the self.” Proceeding from the approaches that presume the “return of the subject,” the author emphasizes the expediency, for the studies of Muslim subjectivities, of microhistorical approaches, in particular, the “pragmatic turn” and the Russian version of microhistory with its characteristic attention to the individual and its complex vision of the historical context.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2023;22(2):174-187
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To be a Muslim in the Penitentiary System of the Russian Empire: Evidence from Tatar Ego-documents of the Early 20th Century

Usmanova D.M.


The article sheds light on the experience of being an inorodets (a non-Russian, non-Christian subjects of the Russian Empire) in the imperial penitentiary system. The Tatar intellectual elite of the early 20th century pondered over the “prison experience” of this period in a number of texts, and the most significant of them are ego-documents written by a new generation of the Tatar elite that reflect new trends in the public discourse of the Muslim community of late imperial Russia. The present publication is based on the texts of private origin (autobiographies, memoirs, diaries) of a number of Muslim prisoners who had a difficult relationship with the authorities as well as with the officially recognized Muslim clergy. The article analyzes three works representing different views of Muslim authors on their prison experience. The prison reality at the turn of the 1870-1880s is depicted in the autobiography of Gabdrashid Ibragimov, who described it from the position of a young Muslim believer. He experienced feelings of shame during in time imprisoned; and at the same he realized that the prison had become for him a “school of life.” The other two writings are the famous work “Prison [Tiur’ma]” by Gaiaz Iskhaqyi and “Prison Reminiscences [Tiuremnye vospominaniia]” by Iusuf Akchura. They were published in 1907 and describe the prison experience of a Muslim in a Tsarist prison from an alternative perspective. We see that the emerging Tatar intellectual circle was quite seriously incorporated into the political context of the late Russian Empire. Therefore, religious aspects of prison reality occupy a rather modest place in the works of the Tatar political activists, and the personal experience of religious feelings is marginal. This corresponds to the circumstance that personal religious experience did not dominate the general worldview of the authors. At the same time the description of prison experience in the form of a more or less developed literary work reflected the level of the various authors’ “personality as well as cognitive and human maturity.”

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2023;22(2):188-206
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Pre-revolutionary Childhood in the Texts of Habib Zaini, Tatar Teacher of the Soviet Era

Gabdrafikova L.R.


They were representatives of the Tatar intelligentsia, born in the 1880-90s. The pre-revolutionary world with the unique urban everyday life of the early 20th century was already lost, but it occupied a central place in the Tatar memoirs of that period. Memoirs and other records of a native of the city of Troitsk, Orenburg province, teacher Habib Zaini (1890-1967) also continue this trend. In his notes, he wrote about his native city of Troitsk and its inhabitants. In the article, we analyze the materials that the author donated to the Lobachevsky Scientific Library of Kazan University in 1967 and notebooks with memories from his family archive. “Family” and “public” memoirs differed in the style of presentation, in the second version the author used formulaic expressions and famous names more often. These ego-documents allowed us to identify several dominants of the “pre-revolutionary world” of Habib Zaini: family ties, the mahalla (Muslim community) and hometown, the clash of traditions and innovations at the turn of the 19-20th centuries. Ego-documents include two layers - the mythologized world of the 1870-80s and the childhood world of the hero of the 1890s, which are united by the place of action and actors. The author of the memoirs received a special education in his family, one of his results is the creation of such a text.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2023;22(2):207-222
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Bukhara and the World through the Views of Jadid and Traveler Mirzo Sirodjiddin Hakim

Rizoev S.K.


The article examines the combined travelogue of Bukhara traveler, Jadid and doctor Mirzo Sirodjiddin Hakim - “Tuhafi ahli Bukhoro [Gifts to Bukharians].” The text written in Persian and published in 1912, with the permission of the imperial authorities in Bukhara, combines a wide range of lexical constructions of the modern era and traditional Arabic-language structures. The purpose of the article is to analyze the subjective ideas of Mirzo Sirodjiddin Hakim of Bukhara, the West, the East, and Russia. The structure of the article is determined by the need to reconstruct the biography of the author of the travelogue and, to identify the features of the social and cultural context that influenced the formation of his worldview. The “Tuhafi ahli Bukhoro” was used as the main source in the article, and while an additional book published in Tehran in 1990 on the text was used as an additional comparative source. The methodological basis of the research is through both biographical and post-colonial approaches. The author reveals that the ideas expressed by Mirzo Sirodjiddin Hakim are largely the result of the experience and practices acquired from his travels. These identified narratives, through which Hakim combined his own knowledge of regional cultures, uses Islamic rhetoric, as well as modern discourse to express an assessment of the position of the Islamic world in the context of rivalry with Christian civilization. Whereas Mirzo Sirojiddin Hakim considered Europe to be the ideal of a progressive society, he perceived Russia as a more important civilizer of the Asian peoples and believed that the progressive future of Bukhara needed to be closer associated with Russia.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2023;22(2):223-232
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‘When there is an opportunity, I’ll try to write it down in Tatar’: National Identity as Constructed in the Diary of High-School Student Fathima Kashafutdinova, 1917-1920

Nazari S.S.


The author examines the process of construction of national identity by high-school student Fathima Kashafutdinova based on her diary entries of 1917-1920 in the context of sociocultural, economic and political changes at the turn of the 20th century and as a result of the Great Russian Revolution (1917-1922). The author analyzes how elements of the Tatar national discourse developed in Fathima’s diary over time and how they were used to express her self-reflection and her identification with other people. Through their research, the author has discovered that Fathima’s had initially needed to construct her national identity as a Tatar, which can be clearly traced through the earlier pages of the diary. Nevertheless, by May 1918, any sign of a “Russians/Tatars” dichotomy disappeared in her text. However, this dichotomy was not completely resolved since she was influenced by both cultural and intellectual processes in the Tatar community as well as by the Russian-speaking urban cultural and social space.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2023;22(2):233-246
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‘Biography’ by Ibrahim Makhmudov: a Soviet Party Leader Views on a Rural Muslim Community of the Early 20th Century

Imasheva M.M.


The author analyzes the memoirs of Ibrahim Makhmudovich Makhmudov (1893-1970), an Astrakhan Yurt Tatar, one of the active builders of the Soviet system in the Tatar villages of the Astrakhan region. Shortly before his death, in 1969, I.M. Makhmudov completed a handwritten version of his memoirs, in which he reflected aspects of the daily life of the Muslim community of the Yurt-Tatar village of Zatsarevo in 1900-14. Based on the personal observations, Makhmudov compiled memories of the last decade and a half of the quiet life of the Tatar-Muslim community of a provincial Russian town before the turbulent events of wars and revolutions that ended with the establishment of Soviet power. The author of the memoirs, as an eyewitness and bearer of cultural tradition, comprehensively and deeply, sometimes scrupulously, covers the events of the early 20th century in a closed Muslim community - the mahalla. However, his assessments to these events and lifestyle area also assessments of a Soviet party leader, who both was an atheist and a person with a huge life experience in the struggle for the ideals of Soviet power as well as a convinced supporter.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2023;22(2):247-262
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The Newspaper Russkaia Muzykal'naia Gazeta’s Publishing Activities during World War I

Logacheva N.V.


Through their work, the author conducts a content analysis of the materials of the “Russkaia muzykal'naia gazeta” between 1914-1918, a newspaper which served as the mouthpiece of Russian cultural figures in the early 20th century, and a periodical which reflected the events of World War I both in military territories on the frontline and in the rear. The article shows from various points the development of musical culture during the First World War, not only in the two capitals - St. Petersburg and Moscow, but also in the provinces. The attitude of the Russian musical intelligentsia to the war is analyzed in the text. Specific examples provided by the author show the high level of patriotism of Russian musicians and the attitude of Western European musicians to the events of the period. In addition, there is emphasis on the influence of patriotic sentiments on the work of Russian musicians including their awareness of the role of musical culture in uniting the people and providing spiritual support to the Russian army.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2023;22(2):263-274
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‘Reconstruction’ of US Cultural Development within the Soviet Press during the ‘Thaw’ Period

Lopatkin I.N., Khisamutdinova R.R.


The authors reveal the peculiarities of the Soviet press coverage of the issues related to culture and education in the United States during the “Thaw” period. Both qualitative and quantitative analysis of the domestic press materials of the period under review showed that the rhetoric used in relation to the US cultural development share many similarities with post-war rhetoric. In their opinion, this fact is explained by the ideological confrontation of the two systems, between - the “American dream” and the “Soviet way of life,” which excluded the possibility of peaceful coexistence. The materials on the culture issue were intended, on the one hand, to demonstrate the rapid decline of art and education in the United States, and, on the other hand, the impossibility of cooperation in that area. The authors also demonstrate that the positive aspects of American art were simultaneously sharply criticized. However, despite the continuity, the press of the “thaw” period had a number of unique features. It was distinguished by greater objectivity as well as reasoning, and on reliance of facts. In addition, presented information became more meaningful and was accompanied by photographic materials. The press published statements by American politicians, public figures and ordinary Americans, which made the publications more interesting for the reader.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2023;22(2):275-288
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USSR and Israel: Experience of Cultural Dialogue in the Context of 1967-1991 Political Confrontation

Medvedeva T.A., Ryzhov I.V., Strukova M.I.


The presented article considers the issue of the Soviet-Israeli cultural interaction in the period of 1967-1991. Based on the analysis of the facts and events of that time reflected in the scientific works written on the problems of the USSR-Israel relations, as well as on the archival documents and memoir publications, the authors outlined the unique experience of the two countries’ interaction during the period, one that was sharpest aggravation of their interstate relations. Through his research, the authors have considered the consequences of the severance of diplomatic relations in 1967, its influence on the nature and forms of cultural interaction, as well as specific factors that determined the direction and content of cultural contacts across this period. Their conclusion is guided by the possibility by of using the modern crisis era of global confrontation between world powers, including the practice of “cancel culture” actively promoted by the West, to compare the positive and negative experience of building an intercultural dialogue between the two countries in the absence of diplomatic relations.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2023;22(2):289-302
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An Emperor Travels around the Russian Empire Outskirts in the 1880s: As According to V.S. Obolenskii’s Diary

Plekh O.A., Chernikova N.V.


Based on the materials from a previously unpublished source - the diary of Prince V.S. Obolenskii-Neledinskii-Meletskii, preserved in the Department of Written Sources of the State Historical Museum, the authors in their article consider the travels of Alexander III through the outlying territories of the Russian Empire in 1882-1888. The diary contains not only many details from the life of the imperial family and the court, but also information on the organization of official and unofficial trips of the emperor, which made it possible to trace the changes that took place in the ceremonial practice and the influence of modernization processes on the goals of the emperor's travels. There is presented through new information on the official visits of Alexander III to Poland (1884, 1886), Finland (1885), the Province of the Don Cossack Host (1887), Ukraine (1885) and the Caucasus (1888), as well as on private vacation trips to the Finnish skerries, the Principality of Łowicz and Livadia. The author shows that as inspection and study trips around Russia became a thing of the past, as ceremonial events came to the fore. The travels of Alexander III, continuing the line traced under Alexander II, were intended to establish a positive image of the monarch and emphasize the connection with his subjects. In the 1880s, visits to remote imperial residences for the purpose of recreation and entertainment became a regular occurrence, events which should be considered as an important part of the daily life of the imperial family.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2023;22(2):303-315
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Concession Policy in the Crosshairs of Revolutionary Self-Consciousness: Labor and Departmental Conflicts

Morozova O.M., Troshina T.I.


The New Economic Policy solved a number of economic and production problems for early the Soviet Union. At the same time, it caused a series of conflicts associated with the delays of the reconstruction period, as well as with the disappointment of the more political active part of the population as it undermined the slogans of the socialist revolution as too distantly obtainable a prospect. The article examines the relations of a specific group of foreign concessionaires with local authorities, and the population of the territories handed over to them by the Soviet authorities for the exploitation of natural resources by utilizing a large number of diverse sources. The emphasis of the authors is placed on two types of non-industrial concessions - foresting (in Northern provinces) and agriculture, practices which continued, to some extent, the tradition of German colonization of southern Russian lands. The authors reveal common and different behavioral strategies of the concessionaires in their relations with the workers, and with the trade union activists; as well as in the attitude of the population and the local party and Soviet authorities to them. Without dwelling on the “predatory” forms of exploitation of the conceded natural resources, or the state line of gradually winding down the concession program, the authors consider another reason for the liquidation of concessions - protest by workers as their self-consciousness was awakened by the “return” of elements of Western capitalism by local party functionaries.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2023;22(2):316-329
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Book Review: Muslim Subjectivity in Soviet Russia. The Memoirs of ’Abd al-Majid al-Qadiri by A. Bustanov, V. Usmanov, eds. Brill Schöningh, 2022, 448 p.

Mardanova D.Z.



RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2023;22(2):330-334
pages 330-334 views

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