Accepted paper:

Hidden genealogies of Uzbek intelligentsia: Case of Alim Sharafutdinov


Elyor Karimov (Hofstra University)

Paper abstract:

This paper makes use of archival documents and oral histories to explore the ties the Uzbek Academician Olim Sharafutdinov (1903-1943) to the Muslim Qadyriya Saint named Abdul Ghafur Akhund, Sahib of Swat (1794-1878), one of those who spread the Qadyriya in Central Asia. He was a legendary figure, who received in his own time great fame not only in the East, but also in the West. At the end of nineteenth century, Helena Blavatsky the founder of the modern theosophical movement, wrote enthusiastically about Sakhib: "Of the many remarkable figures of this century, Ghafur was one of the most outstanding". Descended from Abdul Ghaful Akhund's lineage of Qadyriya eshons in Tashkent, Olim Sharafutdinov joined the Jadid tendency, studied literature in Baku, and upon starting his academic career in Uzbekistan, he dropped "Sayyid" from his name, to remove his public link to a religious status group. Archival documents from the Russian colonial administration provide evidence the lineage's association with specific Tashkent religious foundations. Family oral histories that expounded on family archives offer a window into the ways that a man whose cultural capital was founded in the prestige of the Qadyriya order could make himself into a member of the Soviet Uzbek intelligentsia, offering one specific instance of a transformation that many in Uzbekistan aspired to, and that some achieved.

panel HIS-08
Oral Histories: Uyghur, Tajik, and Uzbek disrupted lives