HIS-02
Gender and Nation in Soviet Central Asian Film, 1940-1970

Convenors:
Yuan Gao (Georgetown University)
Cloé Drieu (CNRS)
Chair:
Yuan Gao
Discussant:
Cloé Drieu
Theme:
HIS
Location:
IMES Room 512
Sessions:
Thursday 10 October, 15:00-16:45

Abstract:

This panel brings together three studies of Soviet Central Asian film in order to understand how these films became sites of negotiation for locally-specific discourses on issues of nation and gender. Through careful analyses of these films, their production, as well as the narratives present within the films and around their production, these papers seek to understand trajectories of post-1930 national identities in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and to understand their inter-relatedness to concepts of gender and a pan-Soviet identity. The three papers are interrelated both geographically and thematically. Zukhra Kasimova's paper looks at the Soviet Uzbek film You are Not an Orphan (1962), a feature film loosely based on the real story of the Shomakhmudov family, and at the Soviet documentary titled Life on a Collective farm (1968) featuring a female head of a provincial collective farm who adopted 10 children. Kasimova's paper compares this film and other coverage of the Shomakhmudov family with the case of Fatima Kasimova, another case of large war-time orphan adoption in Soviet Uzbekistan, which received significantly less press coverage. Kasimova shows how films in the 1960s were an important site for negotiation of Soviet Uzbekness and demonstrates the possibility for multiple localized discourses of Soviet modernity. Nicholas Seay's paper looks at post-war Tajik feature films dedicated to the early period of Soviet rule in Tajikistan. Looking at three films (Dokhunda (1956), Chelovek Menyaet Kozhu, 1959, and Khasan Arbakesh (1965)) Seay's paper argues that these films emerged as a discernible category which looked at this early period and ultimately helped create a sense of Soviet Tajikness; as was the case with the literary works upon which these films were based, these films testify to the contested nature of official Tajik national identity. Finally, Gordiya Khademian's paper looks at performance negotiation and concepts of Tajik nationalism in three different films from the late Soviet period. By focusing on dance performances present throughout these films (Nisso, Youth's First Morning (1979) and Lullaby (1966)) and the 1966 Concert of Tajik Masters of Arts Khademian stresses the important legacy of early Soviet nationality policy. She shows how the debates around such performances reframed narratives of national modernity and based them on notions of the past. By looking at this late period, she demonstrates the limitations of national cultural policy, while shedding light on the emergence of national movements and identities in the late Soviet period.