Chokan Valikhanov

Pioneering Ethnographer and Historian of the Great Steppe

Edited by Nick Fielding, Translated by Arch Tait

Embassy of Kazakhstan in the United Kingdom,
in partnership with Cambridge University Press, 2020

Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the UK/ Cambridge University Press, 2020

Hardback, 38.48
ISBN 978-1-526-20845-3
320 pages

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Chokan Valikhanov
with the exiled
Fyodor Dostoyevsky

  Chokan Valikhanov

Born in 1835 into a wealthy and powerful Kazakh clan, Chokan Valikhanov was one of the first 'people of the steppe' to receive a Russian education and military training. His famous mission to Kashgar in Chinese Turkestan, which began in June 1858 and lasted for more than a year, saw him in disguise as a Tashkent merchant risking his life to gather information not just on current events, but also on the ethnic make-up, geography, flora and fauna of this unknown region. He was elected to membership of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society and was given a private audience by the Tsar. He struck up strong and lasting friendships with the likes of the Russian explorer Pyotr Semyonov-Tian-Shansky and the writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Valikhanov died of tuberculosis in 1865, aged only 29.

This volume presents Chokan Valikhanov's most important scholarly works, which are devoted to exploring aspects of the geography, history, ethnology and economics of Central Asia, while also offering his original views on the societies of the region. Valikhanov's situation obliged him to resolve issues of his own identity and place in society. Spiritually, he was a Kazakh. When he came into contact with the achievements of global civilization, therefore, he had to define his own place and that of his people among the nations of the world.



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