Call for International Conference “Rethinking Resistance: The 1916 Uprising in Central Asia”

Date: 01 December 2015
Dates: 20-21 May, 2016
The year 2016 marks the centenary of the 1916 Uprising in Central Asia. The largest and by far the most violent national protest against the Russian colonial rule, the Uprising of 1916 remains one of the lesser known episodes in the history of the region. Its causes were rooted in economic inequalities and social exclusion imposed on the indigenous population by the imperial authorities. Its impact on the local society was profound as it disrupted the agricultural production, resulted in the refugee crisis, and led to an increasingly violent competition for dwindling resources between the colonists and the local farmers and pastoralists. Furthermore, the Uprising’s locale – at the periphery of the empire – and its timing – on the eve of the two revolutions that reshaped the political landscape of the metropole – make it a part of what Peter Holquist called “Russia’s continuum of crisis”.
We seek contributions from emerging and established scholars that put the uprising in a broader historical and cross-disciplinary perspective. Some of the proposed themes include but are not limited to:
The intra-regional dynamics of the Uprising/ What role did the spatial distribution and the social composition of settled communities play in the timing of the conflict and the scale of violence? What are the differences between the farming and pastoral areas of Central Asia in terms of the organization and the impact of the conflict? How does the Uprising relate to the economic crisis caused by the World War I? What was the impact of the Uprising on the implementation of the Soviet nationalities policies in the region?
Personal and communal experiences of the Uprising. What were the  gendered and/or ethnic dimensions of the conflict? How did communities on both sides of the divide respond to the conflict and describe their experiences?
Commemoration and remembrance of the Uprising. What are the practices of collective commemoration? What is the difference between state-sponsored memorialization of the Uprising and its unofficial communal remembrance?
Official representations. What was the Soviet view on the Uprising and how and why did it change over time? What are state-sponsored representations of the uprising in the recently independent countries of the region? How do the national historiographies of the Uprising compare to each other?
Arts  and  Literature.  How  is  the  Uprising  depicted  in  the  works  of  Central  Asian  writers, poets, artists, and filmmakers? What do the 19th   century Central Asian oral and literary sources say  about  Russian  settlers  and  colonial  rule  in  the  region?  What  was  the  fate  of  those thousands of Central Asians who fled to China and stayed on there? What was the Chinese reaction to the refugees?
Archives and Museums. The 1916 Uprising can be interestingly showed through archival and museum materials. How much the archival materials on the 1916 Uprising of Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asian states have been studied? Are there museum materials on the 1916 event? How much these museum materials are used to reflect the local history? What kind of meanings do they represent?
We invite proposals for 15-minute individual presentations. Interested applicants should submit 1) a short curriculum vitae (one page max.) including name, address, email, and institutional affiliation; 2) the title and an abstract of your paper (approx. 500 words, in Kyrgyz, English or Russian), addressing the main argument developed within one of four dimensions: historical, ethnographic, economic and political.
We will try to cover partial or full costs of travel and accommodation for successful applicants. If you need a visa support, we can send an invitation letter. Applications will be accepted until 1 December, 2015. Conference papers should be submitted by 1 March, 2016. Please email applications to: If you have any questions, please contact conference organisers:
Kyrgyz Turkish “Manas” University (KTMU) American University in Central Asia (AUCA) University of Central Asia (UCA), French Institute for Central Asian Studies (IFEAC) Aigine Cultural Research Center (ACRC)
Kyrgyz Turkish “Manas” University and American University in Central Asia, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan


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