Who are the Crimean (Kyrym) Tatars?

The following is bibliographic essay by Nermin Eren <ne10@columbia.edu>, annotated by Inci Bowman <inci.bowman@utmb.edu>.

The Crimean Tatar cultural history is little known in the West due to the lack of enough sources. In fact, as Allan W. Fisher wrote, "...there is no account in any language of the history of Crimean Tatars from their first appearance in Crimea until today" (_The Crimean Tatars_, p. xii). However, Western scholarship is not completely uninformed about the Crimean Tatars, largely due to the forcible removal of the Crimean Tatars from their homeland which took place in 1944.

Besides the articles concerning the deportation, several major studies (published books and dissertations) provide useful information about Crimean Tatar cultural and political history.

The first pioneering study _ The Russian Annexation of the Crimea 1772-1783_ (Cambridge at the University Press, 1970) by Alan W. Fisher contains detailed research based on Russian and Ottoman archival documents as well as primary and secondary sources relating to the subject. The study covers the political events from 1772 to 1783, and is an objective and reliable source for understanding not only the Crimean Tatars, but also the rivalry between the Russian and Ottoman empires, which deeply affected the people of the Crimean peninsula and the adjacent areas.

The second study, _The Crimean Tatars_ (Hoover Institution Press, 1978), by the same scholar, Alan W. Fisher, is a concise work on the political, economic, social and cultural life of the Crimean Tatars. The book begins with the origin of Crimean Tatar people and covers, with sufficient arguments, much of the history of Crimean Tatars until the end of 1960s. However, this concise history falls short of covering the Crimean Tatar intellectual life during the period immediately after the annexation of 1783 and prior to the emergence of Ismail Bey Gaspirali and his newspaper "Terjuman" in 1883. As the author himself states, this is not without a reason since intellectual life of that period was not written, or documented by the Crimean Tatars themselves. In other words, scholars do not have enough sources to evaluate the Crimean society from the end of the eighteenth and through most of the nineteenth centuries.

The third study _Tatars of the Crimea. Their struggle for Survival_ (Duke University Press, 1988), edited by Edward Allworth, is a clear narrative of the cultural and political history of the Crimean Tatars. It contains articles written by both specialists on the subject and the Crimean Tatar intellectuals and dissidents living in the United States. In addition, invaluable original documents translated into English for the first time, make this book an indispensable source for the students of Crimean Tatar culture.

The fourth study, "Ismail Bey Gasprinskii and Muslim Modernism in Russia, 1878-1914" (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Washington, 1973) by Edward James Lazzerini, is a biography of Ismail Gaspirali, one of the foremost reformers of the Turkic peoples of the Russian Empire. It is also a detailed study of the "jadid" (reform) movement in Russia based on primary as well as secondary sources. In addition to this study, Professor Lazzerini published several articles in various journals and books on the subject of the "jadid" movement and Ismail Gaspirali: "Ismail Bey Gasprinskii (Gaspirali), the discourse of modernism, and the Russians" in _Tatars of the Crimea_, edited by Edward Allworth (1988); "Gadidism at the Turn of the Twentieth Century: a View from within" in _Cahiers du Monde Russe et Sovietique_ vol. XVI, # 2, (1957), pp. 245-277; "Ethnicity and the Uses of History: the Case of Volga Tatars and Jadidism" in _Central Asian Survey_ vol. I, # 2-3 (1982), pp. 61-69.

The fifth study,"National Movements and National Identity among the Crimean Tatars (1905-1916)" (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin, 1990), by Hakan Kirimli is a good source for the political history of Crimean Tatars during the first decades of the twentieth century.

_The Punished Peoples_ (W. W. Norton & Company Inc., 1978) by Aleksandr M. Nekrich is a work written in Russian by Nakazannie Narodi (Izdatel'stvo Khronika, 1978), and immediately translated into English by George Saunders. The author, who served in the Soviet Army's political department during the second World War, was in the Crimea in 1944 and personally witnessed the deportation of Crimean Tatars. This work is an important source for that period and its aftermath.

Comparatively few other works deal with the Crimean Tatars. _Soviet Zion_ (St. Martin's Press, 1994) by Allan L. Kagedan (although the subject is not the Crimean Tatars) covers the efforts of Crimean Tatar leadership (namely Veli Ibragimov) to prevent Jewish settlements in Crimea, planned by the central Soviet administration during the 1920s.

Another source, _Ottoman Population, 1830-1914. Demographic and Social Characteristics_ (The University of Wisconsin Press, 1985) by Kemal H. Karpat partially deals with Crimean Tatar migration to the Ottoman Empire in the nineteenth century.

Particularly important for the study of Crimean Tatar immigration to the Ottoman empire are the two articles by Mark Pinson. The first article, "Ottoman Colonization of the Crimean Tatars in Bulgaria, 1854-1862" was published in _Proceedings of the Seventh Congress of the Turk Tarih Kurumu_ (1970), and deals with the settlement of Crimean Tatars in today's Bulgaria, which was a part of the Ottoman Empire prior to 1912. The second article, "Russian Policy and the Emigration of the Crimean Tatars to the Ottoman Empire, 1854-1862," which appeared in two parts in _Guney Dogu Avrupa Arastirmalari Dergisi_ (Istanbul University, I, 1972; II, 1973-74), covers the Tatar out-migration after the Crimean War (1853-56). Both articles are based on the author's unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, "Demographic Warfare --Aspects of Ottoman and Russian Policies, 1854-1866" (Harvard University, 1970).

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Copyright (c) 1996 by Iskender Agi.
October 16, 1996 at 12:09 PM