Nationalist leaders in the former-Soviet states strive for national identity in both the political and cultural domains. Their language policies contend with Russian-speaking intelligentsias, numerous ethnic minorities and sizable Russian communities backed by the Russian Federation - all presenting major challenges to facing the legacy of Soviet rule. Drawing on many years of research, interviews with educators and officials, and visits to the region, Barbara Kellner-Heinkele and Jacob M. Landau here explore the politics of language and its intersection with identity in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In the ex-Soviet republics examined here, language usage emerges as a common indicator of the divisions between ethnic groups, and the success of its administration as a unique gauge of the difficulties of forming a national identity removed from and often opposition to the legacy of Soviet rule. Furthermore, whilst examining the case of Tajikistan, where Persian-speakers comprise the majority, Kellner-Heinkele and Landau explore the influence of Iran in the country, as the inescapable logic of the geopolitical position of the region comes into play. Once the stage for the 'Great Game' of superpowers in the nineteenth century, the states of Central Asia are now the prime location for an examination of the formation and transformation of identity and nationalism. With debates over bilingualism versus multilingualism and the rejection of Cyrillic script in favour of Latin taking centre stage, the authors examine how the state has attempted to shape and influence the formation of not only the identity of its people, but the very nature of its own power and authority. With special attention given to language education in schools and universities within each state, Language Politics in Contemporary Central Asia offers historians, political scientists and linguists a comprehensive study of a highly politicised debate.
Language Politics in Contemporary Central Asia
National and Ethnic Identity and the Soviet Legacy