The international scientific workshop ‘Central Asia and Caucasus in the late 19th-early 20th centuries: dimensions and challenges of the new time’ was organised by the International Institute for Central Asian Studies in cooperation with the Institute of History of the Academy of Science of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the State Museum of the Timurid History, sick and was held in Tashkent, cost on 30 November 2012. Shahin Mustafayev, the Director of the IICAS, Bahrom Abdulhalimov, the Vice-President of the Academy of Science of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Krista Pikkat, the Head of the UNESCO Office in the Republic of Uzbekistan, and Alisher Ikramov, the Secretary General of the National Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan for UNESCO, gave their welcoming speeches.
The monograph ‘The history of social and cultural reforms in the Caucasus and Central Asia (late 19th-early 20th centuries)’, published by the International Institute for Central Asian Studies in Samarkand in 2012 following a long-term international research project, was presented at the workshop by Shahin Mustafayev, Doctor of History and the project manager, and Dilorom Alimova and Irada Bagirova, both Professors, Doctors of History and the managing editors.
In their speeches they informed the attendants that the book they presented covered the history of emergence and development of the national progressive movement in Muslim communities of Central Asia and the Caucasus in the 19th-early 20th centuries. The monograph studies the conditions under which the reformatory movement ‘Jadidism’ appeared, and investigates the activities of educationalists in the Caucasus and Central Asia. It pays special attention to the essence and practice of educational reforms and to the development of national mass media and the first social and political organisations in the Caucasus and Central Asia. The speakers stressed the historical necessity to mordenise the society as the main objective of reformatory movements. They also focused their attention on various social, philosophic and religious conceptions, on the transformation of the Muslim consciousness and on the necessity to reform Islam in the present-day conditions.
It should be noted that scholars from various countries, namely from Azerbaijan, Russian Federation (Dagestan), Germany, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, participated in the workshop. Irada Bagirova, professor of the Institute of History of the National Academy of Science of Azerbaijan, made a report, ‘The evolution of the worldview of the Azerbaijani intellectual elite in the course of the cultural transformation of a traditional society in the late 19th-early 20th centuries’. She noted that the process of formation of the nation, which began in the late 19th-early 20th centuries in Azerbaijan, presupposed, first of all, a certain cultural revolution with representatives of the intellectual elite, educationalists and propagandists for the people’s cultural and historic values coming to the foreground to unite the country into a single national and state organism. According to I. Bagirova, although in Tatarstan and Central Asia Jadidism became the ideological base of social and political conception in the late 19th-early 20th centuries, in Azerbaijan Jadidism was merely one of the areas of enlightenment, confined to the establishment of ‘new-method’ schools and not transformed into a socio-political movement, which developed there in a different way, in a broader spectrum.
Bahtiyer Babajanov, Doctor of History and Professor of the Institute of Oriental Studies, made a report ‘Uncompleted reforms of the Turkestan Jadids: religion, nation, state’. The reporter analysed in detail a number of important aspects in the activity of the enlightenment ideologists in Central Asia.
Eva-Maria Auch, professor of the Humboldt University in Berlin, made a report, ‘Muslim elites of the Southern Caucasus in the 1860s-1940s’, and spoke about the newest methods of defining political elites and counting the number of their representatives, which she had used in a project connected with the history of Azerbaijan. E.-M. Auch presented a programme aimed at the development of an electronic database of representatives of the Azerbaijani cultural and intellectual elite of the 19th-early 20th centuries and noted its applicability to the analysis of the history of Central Asia.
Zharas Yermekbayev, Doctor of History and Professor, in his report ‘Kazakhstan in the period of socio-cultural modernisation (19th-early 20th centuries)’ emphasised the general and the common features in the process of cultural transformation of Central Asian peoples. Zh. Yermekbayev spoke about educationalists’ activity in Kazakhstan, about the character of their religious views and about educational reforms in the territory of Kazakhstan.
Patimat Tahnayeva, Candidate of History and a researcher from the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, discussed the importance of the cultural Renaissance in the Caucasus in the early 20th century.
Imanutdin Sulayev, Professor of the Dagestan State University, made a report ‘On the history of socio-cultural reforms in the Northern Caucasus in the second half of the 19th-early 20th centuries (with Dagestan province serving as a model)’.
After the main reports were made, a discussion began, in the course of which the participants of the workshop expressed their opinion on the presented papers.
Sh. F. Rahmanzade, Candidate of History, told the audience about the activity of M. F. Ahundov, one of the first educationalists in Azerbaijan, whose social and philosophical views had a deep influence upon the development of the social conception of the peoples of the Muslim East. Sh. Rahmanzade considers M. F. Ahundov to be the first authentically radical and consistent atheist, who shattered the traditional ideological paradigm, and the first philosopher creating a more or less integral concept of enlightenment in Azerbaijan.
There was an exchange of opinions, impressions and congratulations in connection with the presentation of the monograph ‘The history of social and cultural reforms in the Caucasus and Central Asia (late 19th-early 20th centuries)’. The International Institute for Central Asian Studies received special thanks for its project, which united the efforts of scholars and experts from different countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus aimed at collaborative study of the problems of social and cultural modernisation of peoples from the two regions. The workshop participants expressed their hope that the work focusing on this important and interesting subject will continue.