Since the fall of the USSR, historical narratives of Russia’s Muslim borderlands have changed considerably in Russia as well as abroad. Moreover, in the new millennium there have been new attempts to misuse regional history in post-Soviet history politics. This presentation addresses these topics in today Caucasus, drawing on extensive field and archival work of the author in the region, mostly in Dagestan, over the last twenty five years. What forms does history politics take in the region under Putin’s rule? What narratives are dominant in it as it concerns the region’s medieval and modern history? Who pays for the making of history politics in Russia’s Caucasus? What can be said of the Soviet legacy in Muslim history writing? How did academic Orientology and area village studies contribute to the production of post-Soviet historical narratives in the North Caucasus? This presentation will take a post-colonial perspective as it traces these questions through major recent trends in historical scholarship and the politics of the region.
Vladimir Bobrovnikov is research fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences in Amsterdam. He studies modern history and social anthropology of Muslim villagers in Russia’s Caucasus, mostly in Dagestan, where he conducts extensive archival and field work from 1992 to date. Vladimir has a MA from the Moscow State University (1987) and a PhD from the Moscow Institute for Oriental Studies (1994). He lectured at Stanford University (Moscow branch), Institut d’études politiques (Paris), Higher School of Economics (Moscow), Moscow State University, Russian State University for the Humanities (Moscow). Vladimir’s research interests include microhistory of Muslim village communities under colonial and socialist reforms, its hybrid religious and judicial practices, new imperial history, Orientalist scholarship, post-socialist and post-colonial studies. He is the author of Custom, Law and Violence among the North Caucasus Muslims (in Russian, Vostochnaia literatura, 2002), North Caucasus in the Russian Empire (in Russian, NLO, 2007), Custom and Law in Written Sources from Dagestan from the 5th through the Early 20th Centuries (in Russian, Marjani, 2009, in 2 vol.), Tatar Shama’il: Word and Image (in Russian, Marjani, 2009, 2nd ed. 2013, 3rd ed. 2015), Voyage au pays des Avars, (Cartouche, 2011), Posters of the Soviet East, 1918–1940 (in Russian, Marjani, 2013), Syntaslar: Funeral Steles of the Nogay Steppe (in Russian, Marjani, 2016). At the same time, he co-edited The Devotees of Islam: the Cult of Saints and Sufism in Central Asia and the Caucasus, (in Russian, Vostochnaia literatura, 2003), Dagestan and the Muslim East. Studies on History of Islam in Honor of Amri Shikhsaidov, (in Russian, Marjani, 2010), Orientalism vs. Orientology (in Russian, Sadra, 2016), Muslims in the New Imperial History (in Russian, Sadra, 2017). Articles based on his research has appeared in Russian, German, French and English in American Historical Review, Annals of Japan Association for Middle Eastern Studies (AJAMES), Central Asian Survey, Central Asia and the Caucasus, ISIM Newsletter, Middle Eastern Studies, Religion, State and Society, Revue d’études comparatives Est-Ouest, Die Welt des Islams. Vladimir’s current research is focused on the colonial transformation of Shari’a justice in the Caucasus under the tsarist rule and transnational transfers of Islamic legal knowledge between Russia, Ottoman empire and other European empires of the colonial age.