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Accepted Paper:

Deconstructing Soviet Literary Construction: The Making of Uzbek Socialist Realism's First Classic, Hamza Hakimzoda Niyoziy's The Rich Man and the Servant (1918-1939)  
Christopher Fort (American University of Central Asia)

Paper long abstract:

On March 18, 1929, Hamza Hakimzoda Niyoziy, known as Hamza, had the relatively good fortune of being stoned to death by supposedly fanatic Uzbek villagers in the Uzbek exclave of Shohimardon. Dispatched to the village by the Uzbek Central Committee to dismantle a pilgrimage site, the town's main source of income, Hamza came up against the fury of powerbrokers afraid of losing their wealth. Had he not met his end there, Stalin's OGPU and later NKVD likely would have subjected him to a far more gruesome fate. Hamza's early demise proved serendipitous for his legacy. The Soviet Uzbek literary establishment began Hamza's canonization soon after his death. The process culminated in 1939 when Uzbek socialist Komil Yashin (1909-1997) "restored" from extant fragments Hamza's 1918 drama The Rich Man and the Servant, which was subsequently declared the first work of Uzbek Socialist Realism, and Hamza - the first Uzbek Socialist Realist writer. Yashin's version of the text was accepted as Hamza's authentic work and represented as such in scholarly editions of Hamza's works until 1988.

This paper provides a comparison of the extant fragments of Hamza's 1918 play with Yashin's 1939 version. Through that comparison, it demonstrates that what Katerina Clark (2000), based on her readings of Russian Socialist Realist texts, dubs Socialist Realism's ritualized "master plot" was not wholesale imported in the construction of non-Russian Socialist Realism but in fact, adapted to similar, already extant modular plots in non-Russian literatures. This comparison has implications not only for the study of Socialist Realism but also for the nascent field of Soviet subjectivity. Most studies of Soviet subjectivity (Kotkin 1995; Halfin 1999; Hellbeck 2006) employ exclusively Russian sources to argue that Soviet denizens used the language, ideology, and symbols of the Stalinist regime to narrate their individual struggles. However, the fact that Uzbek socialists like Yashin could not create Uzbek Socialist Realism without reference to the literary and historical imaginaries of their Islamic reformer predecessors demonstrates that Soviet subjectivity had different narrative implications for the USSR's non-Russian inhabitants.

Panel LIT-02
Literature and Identity: Historical Models and New Configurations 1900-1940
  Session 1 Friday 11 October, 2019, -