the north caucasus barrier: the russian advance towards the muslim marie bennigsen broxup

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  • The North Caucasus Barrier: The Russian Advance towards the Muslim World. by MarieBennigsen BroxupReview by: Thomas M. BarrettSlavic Review, Vol. 53, No. 3 (Autumn, 1994), pp. 970-971Published by:Stable URL: .Accessed: 12/06/2014 16:19

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  • 970 Slavic Review

    As a collection of articles published at different times, this work is sometimiies unnecessarily repetitive; the same event or phenomenon comes up sever-al times, al- though it may be approached from differenit anigles. This problem might have beenl addressed through more drastic revision or by combining some chapters. Nevertheless, Looking Toward Ararat provides a very informative, lucidly written overview regarding the constr-uctioni and developmenit of Arimlenian- national identity, especially durinig the Soviet period.

    Suny is known largely for his work oIn Georgia and the Traniscaucasus; thus this work relies on secondary rather than archival sources. The fact that the author- is not primar-ily a specialist on Armien-ia, however, contributes to one of the strenigths of this work, which consistently places the discussion of Arm-leniiani identity and nation for- mation in its regional context, where its developmeint caIn be compairecd anid contr-astecd with those of its neighbors. As a result, this volumlle is not only of value to Arm-leniiani specialists. It should also prove useful to scholars inter-ested in the history ainid coIml- plexities of interethnic relation-s in the Soviet Union, as well as those pursuinig theo- retical issues illuminated by the Armenian case.

    NoIZA DuLiwi:c kennantt Institute for Advan-ced Russian Studies

    The North Caucasus Barrier: The Russiani Advance towards the Muslim World. Ed. Marie Bennigsen Broxup. New York: St. Martini's Press, 1992. xvii, 252 pp. Inidex. Plates. $39.95, hard bound.

    Where besides the north Caucasus h1as there beenl such haridy anld persistellt resistanice to Russian and Soviet rule? The conitributors to this volume cletail aIn incirectible anid too little known- history of opposition that began-i with the first Russiani intervenitioni in the politics of the north Caucasus in the sixteenth centuly anid continiues to the present struggles for indepeincdeince. Five of the seven articles focus on Sufi-inispiied and led opposition moveimienits of the northeast Caucasus, so the niorth Caucasus in this book means, for the most part, Chechlnia and Daghestan.

    After a summary introcluction by the editor, Chan-tal Lemercier-Quelquejay's 'Co- optation of the Elites of Kabar-da andcl Daghestan- in the Sixteenth Centur-y" discusses Muscovy's failed attemlpt to apply the "Chinigizicd pattern" of co-optation- in the ncor-th Caucasus (winl over the highest level of nobility and the people will follow). Ther-e was no rulin-g line in the north Caucasus with the charisina of the House of' Chinlgiz, so when Ivan Groznyi married a Kabardiain prin-cess and gave her f'ather-, Prin-ce Temrl-itmk, the title "Great Prince of Kabalrda," Kabarda split into pr-o-Muscovite and pro-Cri- mean/Ottoman camps, and the latter got the upper hand. The bulk, andc the mlost useful, part of this article is a review of the social, political anld religious structut-es of the various peoples of the north Caucasus, the complexity an-d diversity of whicl Muscovy oversin-plified to the detriment of the co-optatioin striategy.

    The clomiinant mean-s of Russian- penetration in the nor th Caucasus, especially by the nineteenth century, was militar-y conquest. Moshe Gamimer- reviews the Russian militar-y strategies durin-g the period of the most bitter warefalre (1895-1859), cri- tiquing the thesis that Russia's difficulty in milastering the regioIn was caused by the abandonmillent of Ermolov's siege strategy. Rather, the extremiie cruelty of the Erimlolov system the gradual puslhinig of the Russian fortified line south anid mnethodical conl- quering of terr-itory, combin-ed with the expulsion of native peoples and br-utal pu- nitive expeditions-created an enormous hatred of the Russians; it also laid fertile ground for the spread of the Naqshiban-di Sufi order througlh the northeast Caucasus, which united the various tribes and led themii in a war thalt lasted mnore thalnl thirty years. The "one-blow appioaclhi" attemiipted by Ermolov's imimlecdiate successors was even more disastrous in terms of Russian troop loss. Gaimmer concludces that Russiani victory was accomplished only with the eventual exhaustioni of the moun-taineer-s anid the Russian determinatioin to spare neithier solclier nlor miionley.

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  • Book Reviews 971

    Paul B. Henze's "Circassian Resistan-ce to Russia" shifts the focus of tlhe noIrthwest Caucasus and rightly wonders why this region has received so little attentioin fr-onm historians. Henze's article is more a narration- of Russiani an-d Turkish war and politics towards Circassia in the eighteentih and nineteenth centuries thanl a history of Circas- sian resistance. We learn more of the difficulties all sides had in building allianlces in Circassia Sharnil and Turkey included-than of the content and action of oppositioni.

    Although the defeat of Shamil and the Circassians were important turning points in the Russian annexation- of the north Caucasus, it hardly marked the end of resis- tance. There were major Sufi-led uprisings in the northeast Caucasus in 1862-1864, 1877-1878, and again in 1920-1921. Marie Bennigsen Broxup shows the tenacity of this Muslim defiance in "The Last Ghazawat: The 1920-1921 Uprising," one of the gems of the collection. As a coda to the civil war the people of Daghestan anid eastei-rn Chechnia rose up against the bolsheviks led again by the Naqshibandi brotherhood, peopled by the same clans that fought with Shaiiil and nominially led by Shamiiil's great-grandson. They fought for national liberation and a shariat state andcl included both Sufi sheikhs and forimer tsarist imilitary officers in their leadership. Ancl also r-epeating the history of the nineteenth century, the bolsheviks blunderecd in without an adequate knowledge of the local terriain and suffered terrible troop loss somiie 5,000 Red Army casualties before massacring the resistors.

    Abdurahman Avtorkhanoov's contribution surveys the long history of rePression and opposition in Chechnia-Inigushetia from 1917 up to the mass depor-tatioins of 1943-1944. From the evidence here, Chechen- guerilla activity never really stoppecd but rather variecd in intensity from the lone assassinations of GPU and NKVD agelnts in the 1930s to the mass uprising durin-g collectivization, when the Red Arm-ly had to be sent in again, and the Israilov insurrectioni of 1940-1942, which ended with two Soviet air r-aicds.

    In the two remaining articles Fanny E.B. Bryan reviews the popular-ity of Islamn and the Sufi brotherhoods in the northeast Caucasus in the late Soviet period and Broxup sketches a narrative of political events, mostly in Chechlnia, after the 1991 putsch.

    As a whole, this volume is a very importanit aclditioni not only to the scanty wester-n literature on the north Caucasus, but also to the historiography of the Russiani andc Soviet empires, and of Islamic resistance movemiieints. At times it falls prey to the type of sweeping claim not uncomiimon in the histor-iography of oppressed nationis. It is fal from certain, for example, that the north Caucasus resistance "contributcedc largely" to Russia's defeat in the Crimilean War or that it has anythinig to do with why "'Tur-key, Ir-ani and Afghanistcan still stand" as Broxup claimls. The late eighteen-th centur y leader Man-sur- did not unite all the tribes of the north Caucasus, as Avtor khlaniov asserts. Andc when Broxup predicts thcat the objectives of the contemporary National Chechen Con- gress will be achieved in the future, objectives that include not only independence but a federation of moutain peoples, she slights a lesson of north CaUCaISUS histoIy as basic as the inevitability of resistanice. That is, that the Russian stpte, if it is willing to expend enough for-ce, has the means to hold onto the region. This imiisplacecd optimisml perhaps stems from the tight focus of the book. By focusing so narrowly on Islamiiic- led opposition, the contributors fail to appleciate that, despite the harshness of co- loinial rule, the opposition miiovemenits were neve- able to clraw in m)ost of the peolples of the north Caucasus and the Russian-s always mrtanaged to attract, buy off or neutralize enough people to facilitate theirI mission.

    The book also suffers fromii a host of typographical errors anld a few factual in- accuracies. Of the more glaring of the latter, the map of the Caucasus