In the summer of 1916, the Central Asian territories of the Russian Empire erupted in revolt against Tsarist rule. Three thousand Russian settlers were killed as an unexpected crisis gripped an Empire staggering under the pressures of total war. Central Asia was the most remote, alien and least well-integrated of Imperial Russia’s territories, and the skeletal colonial administration was ill-prepared. Tens of thousands of troops were hurriedly sent to the provinces of Turkestan and the Steppe, and at least 150,000 Central Asians perished in the subsequent military repression and reprisals by the settler population, while tens of thousands more fled to China. In the Soviet period the revolt became key evidence for an indigenous revolutionary consciousness among the Central Asian peoples, but interpretations of its significance were always ideologically contested.
This is the first English-language volume on the Central Asian Revolt of 1916 to appear for over sixty years. It contains contributions from leading historians of Central Asia from ten different countries, including many from the region itself. Between them they provide a comprehensive reinterpretation of the revolt, its suppression and legacy, from its original outbreak in sedentary regions of what is now Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, through the core area of violence in today’s Kyrgyzstan, to the long-lasting rebellion on the northern Kazakh steppe. It sets the revolt within the wider context of the First World War, and of the continuum of crisis which engulfed the Russian Empire after 1914. It will be of vital interest to students and scholars of the history of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, Central Asia and European Colonialism.