Phases of colonial discourse in Russian prose about Turkestan


The article is dedicated to the postcolonial vector of modern Russian literature and its colonial pretext. Three phases of colonial discourse are identified, based on Russian literature about Turkestan: the first phase is connected with the seizure of Turkestan territory by the Russian army in the 19th century (the events of this period are most fully and comprehensively reflected in Nikolai Karazin's prose, however, the most accurate assessment of Turkestan colonization was given earlier – in Saltykov-Shchedrin’s essays); The second phase is connected with the history of the twentieth century, when the Soviet Oriental canon was formed in literature and other arts (exemplified by Andrew Platonov’s “Jan” and “Takyr”, Anna Almatinskaya’s novel “Oppression”, Kamila Ikramova's novella “The Gunsmith's Street”, and Vladimir Motyl's film “The White Sun of the Desert” and other works created in Soviet times); The third phase is post-colonial literature proper, which began to mature in an uncensored format from the 1970s up to the present time. In their plots, modern authors, Dina Rubina, Lyudmila Ulitskaya, Andrew Volos, Adel Khairov, Arkan Kariv, Sukhbat Aflatuni, etc., raise polyethnic, bi-cultural and bi-mental problems of the former Soviet borderlands. We paid more attention to the works of Sukhbat Aflatuni, whose prose is based on postcolonial topics. Among the features, characterizing Sukhbat Aflatuni's narrative, we note the accentuated image of genius loci – a place with ambivalent features: the land both promised and agonizing (becoming a “lethargium”). The article outlines a new phase of colonial discourse – a post-postcolonial one (exemplified by the novel “Telluria” by Vladimir Sorokin).

Key words: 

Turkestan, Russian colonial literature, Russian postcolonial literature, Nikolay Karazin, Sukhbat Aflatuni, Dina Rubina, Adel Khairov, genius loci.

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