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Published:February 16th, 2012 10:43 EST
Memoirs: National Existence and Cultural Struggles of Turkistan and Other Muslim Eastern Turks

Memoirs: National Existence and Cultural Struggles of Turkistan and Other Muslim Eastern Turks

By HB Paksoy

Prof Zeki Velidi Togan, 

Memoirs: National Existence and Cultural Struggles of Turkistan and Other Muslim Eastern Turks [Paperback]  (2011)

Full Text translation form the 1969 original.

Available from books

This work needs to be read as a manual of governance in practice. It does not venture heavily into theory, as it concentrates on how large-scale applications of governance are conducted. In addition, the author was one of those practitioners who interacted and bargained with Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky and the rest of the Soviet and Bolshevik luminaries of his own time for Baskurdistan and Turkistan. It can be read profitably in the context of anti-colonialism, Sub-altern studies, Russian and Soviet studies. He presents the issues on world-wide bases.

The author, a professor of history for over half a century, Zeki Velidi Togan (1890-1970), a Bashkurt Turk, studied and taught in institutions of higher learning on three continents, including the United States.1 His first book, Turk ve Tatar Tarihi (Turk and Tatar History), was published in Kazan in 1911.

The renowned scholars N. Ashmarin and N. Katanov (1862-1922),2 both of Kazan University, and V.V. Bartold (1869-1930) of St. Petersburg University, invited Togan to study with them.  In 1913, Togan was asked by the Archeology and Ethnography Society of Kazan University to undertake a research trip to Turkistan. After successful completion of that endeavor, the Imperial Russian Academy of Sciences,3 jointly with International Central Asia Research Society, sponsored Togan for a more extensive expedition. Portions of Togan`s findings began to be published in scholarly journals prior to the First World War. His lifetime output approaches four hundred individual items in at least five languages. He also had facility in several others.

Like the Ukrainian scholar Mikhail Hrushevsky (1866-1934) and the Czech Thomas Masaryk (1850-1937), Togan was not only a scholar devoted to writing about the history of his nation, but also worked to secure its intellectual, cultural, civil, and political independence. He became a leader of the Turkistan National Liberation Movement in Central Asia (1916-1930s), called the Basmachi Movement by the Russians. A revealing anecdote is offered by A. Inan, a close colleague of Togan both as a historian and as a leading member of the Turkistan National Liberation movement. The event takes place in June 1922 in the vicinity of Samarkand:  
When a Bolshevik military unit, detailed to liquidate us, opened fire, we took refuge in a nearby cemetery.

As we began defending ourselves, I noticed that Togan had taken out his ever-present notebook and was busily scribbling. The circumstances were so critical that some of those among our ranks even thought that he was hurriedly recording his last will and testament. He kept writing, seemingly oblivious to the flying bullets aimed at him, and the accompanying sounds of war. I shouted at him from behind the tombstone that was protecting me, and asked why he was not fighting. Without looking up, continuing to write, he shouted back: ``you continue firing. The inscriptions on these headstones are very interesting.``

The translator, H. B. PAKSOY, taught at the Ohio State University, Franklin University, University of Massachusetts-Amherst,  Baker College, Central Connecticut State University.

Over the past three decades, his research papers have appeared in over sixty periodic journals and scholarly collections, in over thirty-five countries situated on all inhabited continents.  Dr. Paksoy also published (as author or editor) twelve books; most are available online.

H. B. PAKSOY earned his D. Phil. from Oxford University, England (with a Grant from the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals of the Universities of the United Kingdom), M.A. at the University of Texas at Dallas (with a National Science Foundation Project Grant Assistantship), and B.S. at Trinity University (with Bostwick Scholarship).