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Talk by Dr Boram Shin, Jeonbuk Uni (South Korea) on ‘Uzbek Identity Building in the early Soviet period’

When Feb 19, 2021
from 11:00 AM to 01:00 PM
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Cambridge Central Asia Forum in collaboration with the Centre of Development Studies Paper 400 and GCRF COMPASS Project, University of Cambridge invites you to a talk by

Dr Boram Shin, Jeonbuk Uni (South Korea)


‘Uzbek Identity Building in the early Soviet period’ 


Date: 19 February 2021

Time: 11-1pm (UK)

Venue: Zoom (Please register in advance at

Abstract: The talk focuses on the Uzbek national identity construction 
through the canonization of Alisher Navoi during the early Soviet time. 
Alisher Navoi, a fifteenth-century Chagatai-Turkic poet from Herat, 
Afghanistan, became uzbekified and sovietized by Uzbek writers and 
scholars from the 1920s to the 1940s. It focuses on how shifting visions 
of nation-building affected Navoi's representation in Uzbek national 
historiography during the early Soviet period. The 1948 Soviet 
celebration of the 500th anniversary of Alisher Navoi's birth 
established the poet as a symbol of Uzbek “national-exceptionalism” that 
distinguished the Uzbek nation from other Central Asian nations. As a 
consequence, Alisher Navoi's legacies that had regional significance 
were reduced to national heritage and the region's history was revised 
accordingly. Yet, the Soviet canonization of Alisher Navoi was not a 
rootless imposition of cultural history unfamiliar to the Uzbek people. 
Rather it was a realization of a nation-building project initiated by 
native Central Asian intellectuals called Jadids before the very 
creation of the Uzbek nation-state. Even though these intellectuals were 
persecuted during the 1930s Stalinist Terror, their ideas survived and 
were picked up by a new generation of Uzbek writers. The talk will 
discuss how World War II provided an opportunity and justification for 
the Uzbek writers to rediscover their nation's pre-Revolutionary history 
and strengthened the Uzbek national ownership of Navoi legacies.

Biography: Dr. Boram Shin is Assistant Professor at the School of 
International Studies at Jeonbuk National University, South Korea. She 
received a PhD degree in Slavonic Studies from University of Cambridge 
with a dissertation that explored national identity construction in 
Uzbekistan through Soviet culture from the 1930s to the 1940s. Currently 
Dr. Shin is working on Soviet and Central Asian cultural and science 
diplomacy during the Cold War.

Everyone is welcome.