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24 | 2015
Littérature et Société en Asie centrale

Nouvelles sources pour l’étude des relations entre culture et pouvoir du XVe siècle jusqu’à nos jours
Literature and Society in Central Asia: new sources for the Study of Culture and Power from the Fifteenth century to the Present
Edited by Gulnara Aitpaeva and Marc Toutant
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ISBN 978-2-84743-112-4

 The literature of what has been labelled ‘Central Asia’ has been produced in a variety of languages and across a huge area, which includes not only the five republics of the former Soviet Union (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan), but also Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, and parts of Russia and China (the Uyghur Autonomous Region). Needless to say the literary works produced in this vast space represent a considerable amount of material, both oral and written, which would maybe require more attention than they are actually given thus far, at least in the Western academic world. Given the scarcity of publications in the field, the fact that the Cahiers d’Asie centrale is devoting a single issue to this matter is something that deserves due attention.

But this issue is certainly more than a contribution to the study of Central Asian literature. Indeed, by aiming to focus on the societal challenges reflected by Central Asian literary production, this volume would like to bring answers, as well as new kinds of question regarding the way the various societies and peoples of this geographic area have depicted their own historical trajectories. Within the perspective of examining the way literature can be used as a source of historiography, and more generally speaking with the aim of assessing the interconnectedness of society and literature, the various contributors have devoted a specific attention to the issue of the relationships between culture and power. In this regard the historical timeline that is encompassed extends from the fifteenth century up to the present day. It begins with the end of the medieval times, when the Timurid Renaissance achieved the production of its finest hours, and ends with the situation of contemporary Kyrgyz literature, including in the period between the early modern times looked at from the viewpoint of the mystical writings of an Eastern Turkestanese poet, as well as the Russian colonisation and the Soviet era.

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